Patagonian red octopus
Enteroctopus megalocyathus



With being seasonal breeders, Enteroctopus megalocyathus reproduction peaks during spring and summer (Ortiz et al., 2010).  Breeding regions and changes in temperature has a direct correlation to embryonic development rate and success of hatching.  Due to this correlation, the environment plays a large role in their life cycle. See our habitat page for more information.   

When fertilized, a female will swim deep into thermally stable sites perfect for spawning. A male octopus will transfer spermatophores, sperm packages, to the female using the hectocotylus, modified third arm.  The male places the spermatophores into the oviducts of the females.  Fertilization happens when the eggs pass through the oviducal glands.  However, fertilization does not necessarily  immediately  happen. The female can store sperm in the oviduct up to 10 months until a suitable breeding area is found (Norman et al., 2003).  When the perfect area is found, the females will attach strings of her fertilized eggs (Ortiz et al., 2010) in areas such as roofs of holes in ledges of submerged limestone platforms or in scattered holes of silty-clay sediments (Ortiz et al., 2006).  Once these eggs are laid, the mother will provide intense care, in exchange for her life, until the eggs are hatched.  The mother will not eat during this time, and will die shortly after the eggs are hatched (Ibáñez & Chong, 2008).  With a lot of care to larger eggs, the eggs will give rise to planktonic hatchling, the juvenile stage in the direct lifecycle.  Once the hatchling's arms are of similar length to the mantle, the Enteroctopus megalocyathus sinks to the bottom of the ocean for a short time (Ortiz et al., 2006).

Figure 2. Octopus Eggs. Toad Haven. 2005.

Once mature, the Enteroctopus megalocyathus starts looking for a mate.  In order to find a mate, the male shows courtship by swimming towards the female while not making contact (Gutierrez et al., 2012). The male then places an adapted arm, named the hectocotylus, into the females depositing spermatophores, the male gametophyte.  The hectocotylus is a hollowed arm that passes sperm through a sac into the oviduct of the female (Rodrigues et al., 2009).  Although males reach maturity earlier than females (Ortiz et al., 2010), reproduction can still occur because the female can store the sperm in her oviduct until conditions are just right.  The diagram to the right shows this complete life cycle.

relates to other organisms.

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