MBL March Madness: Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus
The lesser Pacific striped octopus (Octopus chierchiae) lives in the Pacific waters of Central America and can often be found by small rocks, shells, and cracks in the intertidal zone. The MBL’s Cephalopod Mariculture team successfully bred O. chierchiae through multiple generations in 2019 — a global first. Breeding multiple generations in the lab is known as “closing the life cycle” and it is critical in biological research. It lets scientists study gene function and mutational effects from one generation to the next. Unlike other octopus species, a female O. chierchiae lays several clutches of 30-90 eggs over her reproductive period.
- Also known as the “pygmy zebra octopus,” O. chierchiae is about the size of a table grape when full grown.
- Like terrestrial zebras, pygmy zebra octopus have unique stripe patterns. Each octopus can be individually identified by its markings throughout its life.
- The hatchlings emerge from the egg bright orange and the size of a pen tip. They don’t develop stripes until they are a few weeks old.
Woods Hole is bursting with biodiversity, but it doesn't have everything. Scientists at the MBL study organisms from all over the world. Important biological models—including zebrafish, Xenopus, and some cephalopod species—are cultured at the MBL to give our researchers (and researchers around the world) access to these biological samples. Here are a few organisms that travel from far and wide to be part of MBL research.