Skip to main content
  1. Travel
  2. Local Getaways

Explore an octopuses garden in the shade in the Aquarium at Mote

See also

Visitors to the Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory are accustomed to seeing amazing things, including tiny Caribbean pygmy octopuses “dancing” on a pencil eraser, which garnered mentions all over the place, including Scientific American and NBC's TODAY show. Now, Cephalopod Specialist Brian Siegel is once again tending to some eight-tentacled babies behind the scenes.

This time, he’s raising a different — but only slightly larger — species called a Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus). So far, Siegel has had 16 eggs hatch, with more expected from mom, who’s still brooding over them.

At about the size of a dime, O. briareus is slightly larger at hatch than O. mercatoris. The adults are bigger, too; briareus grows to about the size of a baseball, but mercatoris is only about the size of a golf ball. Babies of both species are fully formed when they hatch and don’t receive any additional tending-to from mom.

Both species are nocturnal and favor reefs and rocky outcroppings where they can safely stay out of the way of the many things in the ocean that are bigger and brawnier than they are — sharks are among the animals that prey on them. Both prey on small bottom-dwelling vertebrates (like small crabs and shrimp.)

Octopuses are also masters of disguise — both these species have special cells in their skin called chromatophores that allow them to change their color and texture. Because they're so cryptic, neither species will be on display in The Aquarium until they are able to develop a new way to showcase these animals, which prefer to stay hidden and can fit into some very small spaces.

In the meantime, visitors are invited to visit our special exhibit, Survivors: Beautiful and Extreme Adaptations, which features a blue-ringed octopus and the flamboyant cuttlefish, that also have chromatophores and can change colors at will. Survivors is open through Sept. 14 and is free with regular admission.

Be sure to subscribe to this column, travel to some of the greatest local getaways around, all from the comfort of your desktop (or laptop, or PDA, or smartphone!) If you have a favorite local attraction you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about motorsports, HOAs,elections, and restaurants.

Advertisement

Today's top buzz...

  • Logitech mouse
    Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX: Wireless mouse works on any surface including glass
    Camera
    13 Photos
  • Comic-Con
    We've got the sexiest, fiercest, coolest ladies spotted at the San Diego Comic-Con 2014
    Camera
    20 Photos
  • Scarlett Johansson
    Scarlett Johansson is the face of Perfect Mono: Dolce and Gabbana's first cream eyeshadow
    Camera
    5 Photos
  • Cheap Trick
    Cheap Trick once again proved that they are the epitome of American rock and roll
    Camera
    20 Photos
  • Beach hats
    Beat the heat with the best summer beach hats for women
    Camera
    Beach Hats
  • Jeff Gordon
    Jeff Gordon wins his fifth race at The Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
    Camera
    17 Photos

Related Videos:

  • New York Brazilian Day Festival
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/h2xU3E6kePw?VQ=HD720&amp;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>
  • National Dance Day at Lincoln Center
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wUm68OxbGEw?VQ=HD720&amp;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>
  • Lionfish delicacy in the Florida Keys
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518306027" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518306027&autoStart=true"></div>