Last month, a rare octopus species—the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus—moved into the Animal Attraction exhibit at the Academy. As the news spread, Academy Senior Biologist Richard Ross had already turned his attention to the challenging work behind-the-scenes by partnering with UC Berkeley professor Roy Caldwell on a multi-year, painstaking project to describe a species so obscure that it still lacks a scientific name. And even more challenging, Ross, whose expertise and enthusiasm is focused on cephalopods and corals, is hoping to breed this species from paralarvae (as octopus hatchlings are called) to a self-sustaining octopus.
“There are no guarantees of success,” says Ross. “Raising larval marine animals is hard. The entire aquatic community faces the same hurdle—how do you feed the new hatchings and keep them alive? It’s a tough nut to crack.”