Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus

Pygmy zebra octopus
Credit: Tim Briggs

The lesser Pacific striped octopus (Octopus chierchiae) lives in the Pacific waters of Central America and can be found by small rocks, shells, and cracks in the intertidal zone. 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. Chierchiae hatchlings emerge from the egg bright orange and the size of a pen tip. They don’t develop dark contrasting stripes until they are a few weeks old.

Unlike other octopus species, which die as soon as they lay eggs, a female O. chierchiae lays several clutches of 30-90 eggs over her reproductive period. 

Scientific Name: Octopus chierchiae

Type: Cephalopod
Habitat: Rocky intertidal zone
Range: Pacific coast of Central America
Life Span in the Wild: approximately 1.5 years, sexually reproductive at approximately 6 months
Size: Mantle length ~30mm
Weight: 13 grams
Diet: Carnivorous, preys on small mollusks and crustaceans
Status: Data Deficient

Remote video URL
Octopus chierchiae in the MBL's Marine Resources Center. An adult of this species is about the size of a table grape. Credit: Taylor Sakmar
O. Chierchiae and the MBL

Scientists at the MBL and around the world study cephalopods to learn about everything from camouflage and limb dexterity to regeneration and neurobiology.

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 developing a genetic model for research. It lets scientists study gene function and mutational effects from one generation to the next. Females can lay up to 12 separate egg clutches over their reproductive life stage—with new eggs laid every 30-90 days.

Learn more about the cephalopod mariculture program at the MBL