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Hapalochlaena lunulata, a blue-ringed octopus

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Blue-ringed octopuses mating

Two octopuses 'doing the wild thing.' The male is on top and is using his modified third right arm, the hectocotylus, to transfer sperm into the female's mantle.

Hapalochlaena lunulata, a blue-ringed octopus

H. lunulata, one of several species called the blue-ringed octopus, is found in the Indo-West Pacific and Indian Oceans. They lay 60-100 eggs that hatch into planktonic paralarvae. Blue-ringed octopuses are VERY venomous—the iridescent blue rings or lines are thought to be warning coloration (Roper and Hochberg, 1988). It's funny that the most dangerous octopus isn't a gigantic ship sinking creature but a very small and beautiful one. Perhaps someone should tell Hollywood that they have it all wrong....

References and Credits


The photographs of H. lunulata were shot by Roy Caldwell.


Roper, C. F. E. and F. G. Hochberg. 1988. Behavior and systematics of Cephalopods from Lizard Island, Australia, based on color and body patterns. Malacologia. 29(1): 153-193.

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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.