Despite high octopodid diversity in the deep sea, the few opportunities to observe these animals in situ limit tests of behavioral predictions made from anatomy. Over the last decade, I have made numerous opportunistic observations of these octopuses using submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. Most commonly seen were octopuses near hydrothermal vents in the North Pacific Ocean at greater than 2200 m depth. Despite the potential submersible-created artifact, the observed behaviors of octopuses of the genera Benthoctopus Grimpe, 1921, Graneledone Joubin, 1918, and Vulcanoctopus González et al., 1998 are reported here. Benthoctopus and Graneledone differ in wariness and in egg-brooding postures, although both genera produce large eggs from which male hatchlings emerge with clearly developed copulatory arms. In a behavior interpreted as foraging for infauna, octopuses of both genera move the mid-section of their arms through the upper sediment. Graneledone seems more common, perhaps because individuals are typically larger and move more slowly. The greater wariness of Benthoctopus increases the species' propensity to jet and limits observations and capture. Despite considerable submersible time spent in their habitat, octopuses of Vulcanoctopus remain little known; only male specimens are available for study. The few data available indicate that deep-sea octopuses take small prey, as Voss (1988) predicted based on the lack of the esophageal crop and the small posterior salivary glands. If deep-sea octopuses rely on small prey, the need for a crop to serve as a food storage organ is minimized, as is the need for glands that produce venom to subdue large and potentially dangerous prey.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1