Visual Displays by Hapalochlaena lunulata


Haliphron Atlanticus
Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Mar 17, 2003
The electric blue rings flashed by a startled Greater Blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) are easily photographed and are the visual displays that most of us identify with this species. However, their visual display repertoire is actually much richer than that. From time to time I have posted images of other displays. Here are a couple more.

Unilateral stripe. This female responded to a stomatopod (Odontodactylus scyllarus) swimming in an adjacent tank. The stripe is on the side facing the stomatopod. She held this display for almost a minute.

Dark spot background. In this shot the male (light orange) has just pounced on the female and is inserting his hectocotylus into here mantle cavity. As soon as the male made contact with her, the female displayed this typical pattern with dark spots underneath her blue rings. Note that the blue rings are not particularly enlarged. This display lasted about 15 seconds and then the female gradually faded to a light cream color with thin blue rings. Mating lasted for several hours.


  • H lunulata female 8 8 14 unilateral stripe med.jpg
    H lunulata female 8 8 14 unilateral stripe med.jpg
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  • H lunulata male mounting 8 8 14 a med.jpg
    H lunulata male mounting 8 8 14 a med.jpg
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I'm with Robyn on the coolness of that stripe. I have seen numerous stripes on the animals I have kept (white or brown) but they have been either centered or half body coloring, nothing like this display.:thumbsup:
Cool, the more I watch my cuttlefish move their arms about, the more I think we miss animal communication. I wonder if it is partly because we are focusing on a conspecific language rather than a more universal simplified dialog.

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