Julia Elizabeth Himes

Cultivation and Hatchling Feeding Behavior of the Blue-Ringed Octopus Hapalochlaena lunulata

The blue ringed octopus (H. lunulata) is a highly toxic animal, secreting tetrodotoxin (TTX) as a means of defense and prey capture. H. lunulata is an important organism for studying toxicity and its role in behavior, evolution, and reef ecology. Today, these octopuses are taken from the wild for study, and few survive in captivity. The goal of this summer’s project is to design a method of rearing H. lunulata from egg to maturity. This is very difficult, as the paralarval hatchlings or this species are pelagic and require a special upwelling tank to keep them and their prey suspended in the water column. The paralarvae have never been observed in nature or reared successfully in a laboratory, thus their food preferences are unknown. This project will involve the cultivation of possible food sources such as brine shrimp nauplii, rotifers, and copepods. The project will also include the construction and testing of an upwelling tank. With the development of rearing methods, I hope to allow these animals to be raised in captivity for future toxicology studies, and I hope to gain insight into the behavior and life cycle of the blue ringed octopus.

  • Major: Integrative Biology
  • Mentor: Roy Caldwell, Integrative Biology