Octopus maya. (Photo: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México)
First octopus farm operating
Friday, September 20, 2013, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
The world's first centre covering the cycle of octopus farming from eggs is operating in Sisal, after nearly 10 years of research and the work of a group of women from that town on the coast of Yucatan.
Guadalupe Villegas Barcenas, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), stressed that "in other parts attempts have been made but they were focused especially on the fattening process, which is different from raising them from the moment the eggs hatch."
The researcher explained that "the diet is probably a crucial factor in the success of the farming process" of Octopus maya, a species that is endemic to the Yucatan region.
"Ensuring the survival and growth with a good nutritional status is a challenge that is maintained throughout the process," she said.
Octopuses begin their reproduction with the courtship, in which the male and the female perform movements, change colour while facing each other.
At the end of the third arm or tentacle of the male there is a structure with which the specimen introduces the spermatophores or sperm packages in the mantle cavity of the female.
Once the eggs are fertilized, the female expelled them and placed them in a cave that the specimen prepared for them to continue their development.
In Yucatan shelf there are several calcium carbonate formations, which once being perforated by the water that filtrates, it is possible for sea caverns to be formed. That's where the female hangs the eggs on the ceiling, the UNAM explained in a press release.
During spawning and the embryonic development, until the octopus hatches or gets out of the egg (about 45 days), the female is engaged in taking care of it.
Villegas Barcenas stressed that "this process, which is the only reproductive one in its life, the female stops feeding, and days after hatching the specimen starves."
The Octopus maya presents a "direct development" because it is born with the physical characteristics of an adult. "They do not have a larval stage, and this is what explains much of the success of captive breeding because other species do have that phase and feeding one in captivity is very difficult," she added.
Octopus research on Multidisciplinary Unit in Teaching and Research (UMDI) of UNAM is divided into two areas: the experimental, research one and the farming one, in which a women's cooperative in integrated.
The wild adult octopuses -- male and female -- caught by fishermen arrive at the reproduction area, where farming starts. As soon as the female makes the filament with the eggs attached to it, they are removed and placed in incubators in which the atmosphere of the cave is attempted.
Upon hatching, the fry are transferred to the pre-fattening sector and after that to the fattening one, where they are fed.
Initially, the tests were performed at the UMDI in which the Octopus maya was fed with fresh crab, which gave good results but with at a high cost. Then other ingredients were tested until a proper diet was achieved and it is in the patenting process.
By Analia Murias