Life history and distribution of the small south-western Atlantic octopus, Octopus tehuelchus


  • O. O. Iribarne

    1. Instituto de Biologia Marina y Pesquera ‘Alte. Storni’ CC 104 (8520). San Antonio Oeste, Rio Negro, Argentina and School of Fisheries/Center for Quantitative Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
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Although this species has been reported from shallow waters down to 90 m depth, knowledge is almost entirely based on intertidal samples. In this study both intertidal and subtidal samples were taken during 1982–1987, in northern San Matias Gulf (41° S, 63° 30′ W). This is a large-egged (eggs: 9–12 mm long ×–5 mm wide, stack of 4–6 mm long) and small-sized (up to 150 g) octopus. Egg laying occurs between autumn and winter. Embryonic development takes about four months (water temperature:–19°C). Large hatchlings (DML: 5·64 mm, TL: 14·23 mm, TW: 0·139 g) emerge over spring and early summer, and development is direct. Maximum size is reached after 17–18 months; mating takes place in summer. Females reduce their feeding activity when they reach maturity, and cease eating while brooding. Mean life-span is two years, but some individuals (mostly females) may live up to three years. Females approaching the beginning of the brooding period move to the subtidal zone, where males outnumber females until the end of summer and females (mostly brooders) then outnumber males. In the intertidal zone sex ratio was 1:1 from December to late March, but in April males outnumber females.

These life-history traits are compared with those of other large-egged octopuses and are discussed in relation to environmental conditions prevailing in the San Matias Gulf.