There are many organisms that reproduce sexually, but Wunderpus photogenicus takes a very different approach to sexual reproduction even when compared to other octopus species. Its differences from other octopus species have intrigued researchers and further distanced itself from species that may be mistaken with the Wunderpus. While many similar octopi have been found to mate in more remote and distant ways using a long hectocotylized arm (Young 1962; Norman and Finn 2001), Wunderpus mates in a more direct manner with the use of a short hectocotylized arm (Hochberg et al. 2006). This hectocotylized arm houses the spermatophore and is used specially for the transfer of the spermatophore into the female. This arm is a muscular hydrosWunderpus in search for a mate to begin the reproduction process. Photo credit: Barbara Mehlitat. Muscular hydrostats are only comprised of muscle and lack any skeletal support. Whether this arm is used solely for reproductive reasons or for other purposes varies depending on species.

 To start this process, the male first mounts the female to start the mating process. Next, he must insert his arm into the female’s mantle (Hochberg et al. 2006). The male transfers the whole spermatophore into the female’s oviduct. This oviduct is where the fertilization of the eggs will occur by the sperm in the spermatophore. This spermatophore not only contains the male’s sperm, but also houses nourishment to be transferred to the female during reproduction. Male Wunderpus have been found to have as high as 31 for its spermatophore count, compared to another long-armed octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus, which was only found to have 26 (Voight 2009). Yet another reason why the Thaumoctopus mimicus, or “Mimic Octopus” is very different from the Wunderpus. These counts can also be compared to the median number of 24 spermatophores that was determined from a compilation of 74 octopus species (Voight 2009). That being said, there are still many species that far exceed it in spermatophore count event though it shows above average count in this study. After the spermatophore has been transferred into the female and fertilization occurs, it will lay the eggs. The females have been observed to go into seclusion and stop eating prior to laying her eggs. This is when the brooding of the female seems to begin. The eggs were then kept in an oral web prior to being laid. This is very uncommon for species that brood, which typically don’t carry their eggs around while they are not fully developed, but rather attach them to a sturdy structure like a rock prior to complete development. One explanation for this difference may be that Wunderpus typically occupies sandy habitats. The sand doesn’t lend itself very well to attachment for the eggs. It may be more efficient for the female to carry her eggs around until they are ready to be laid. When this time comes, the eggs are laid in a string-like structure (Miscke and Kirchhauser 2006). Females lay a relatively low number of eggs compared to other octopus species (Villanueva et al. 2008). This may be due to body size constraints or other factors. She then broods following the laying of the eggs. This brooding continues to be displayed as increased seclusion such as locations under rocks. A decrease in food consumption also accompanies this brooding process. The female later leaves her eggs prior to hatching and dies following the hatching (Huffard et al. 2009). It is very common for female octopi to die after laying their eggs and in turn only have one spawning (Miscke and Kirchhauser 2006). The brooding process does seem to bring about the death of the female, but she leaves behind many baby octopi to continue on in her place.

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