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Bathypolypus arcticus

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Bathypolypus arcticus is a deep sea octopus that is typically found at depths from 200-600 m in the Atlantic Ocean (Boyle 1987). This species of octopus is small; an average adult from the lower Bay of Fundy weighs around 45 grams, smaller than your hand. My Ph.D. thesis was studying these remarkable animals.
Bathypolypus arcticus
Deep sea octopuses generally do not have ink sacks, have low fecundity (which means they don't lay very many eggs), lay large eggs from which benthic young hatch, and often have large reproductive organs. Female B. arcticus brood their eggs for over 400 days in the wild! During this time they stop eating and slowly waste away as they metabolize their own bodies to provide energy to care for their young.

Deep sea octopuses have longer life spans than their shallow water relatives. For example, the deep sea octopus Bathypolypus arcticus was previously thought to live for 3 years (O'Dor and Macalaster, 1983) which is a long time for a small octopus. My recent work shows that they can live for six years or more! In comparison, many shallow water octopuses only live for a year.

There is a special feeling when observing something for the first time; especially something that no one else in the world has ever seen before. This is one of the rewards of working with a species like B. arcticus that most scientists, even those who study cephalopods, have never seen, much less worked with. Although others have tried, I was the first to witness them mating. Even more exciting was observing the little hatchlings emerge from their eggs. I will share some of the images with you - a hatchling B.arcticus (jpg).

The hatchlings octopuses were involved in experiments testing the effect of temperature on growth rate, the effect of different foods on growth rate and survival, as well as some behavioral experiments.

A B. arcticus is born (Photo's taken from high-8 video by James. Thanks to Dave Gaudet, for shooting the video.)

Jonathan Bird has kindly donated two of his images of B. arcticus to The Cephalopod Page:


References and Credits


The photograph is of one of James's octopuses. The octopus was collected in the Bay of Fundy.
The color photos of a baby Bathy hatching are by myself.
The black and white photo's of B. arcticus hatching were made by myself from high-8 video filmed by Dave Gaudet.
Jonathan Bird donated two of his images of B. arcticus.


O'Dor, R. K. and E. G. Macalaster. 1983. Bathypolypus arcticus Ed Boyle, P.R. Cephalopod Life Cycles. Vol 1. Academic Press, London. 401-410pp.
Wood, J. B., Kenchington, E. and O'Dor R. K. In press Reproduction and embryonic development time of Bathypolypus arcticus, a deep-sea octopod (Cephalopoda: Octopoda). Malacologia

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The Cephalopod Page (TCP), © Copyright 1995-2018, was created and is maintained by Dr. James B. Wood, Associate Director of the Waikiki Aquarium which is part of the University of Hawaii. Please see the FAQs page for cephalopod questions, Marine Invertebrates of Bermuda for information on other invertebrates, and and the Census of Marine Life for general information on marine biology.