Sepia barffi Curtiss, 1938,

Low, Martyn E. Y. & Tan, Siong Kiat, 2014, On the identities of the molluscan names described in A Short Zoology of Ta h i t i in the Society Islands by Anthony Curtiss in 1938 (Mollusca: Cephalopoda, Gastropoda), Zootaxa 3764 (3), pp. 394-400: 396

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Sepia barffi Curtiss, 1938


Sepia barffi Curtiss, 1938  , a synonym of Octopus cyanea Gray, 1849 

Original description (pp. 187, 188). “The Tahiti octopus  or eight-armed cuttle is usually about the size of a man’s fist, with eight legs dangling down, and no tentacles besides. The web at the base of the legs does not come far down, and there are no horns. The body is rounded at the rear, with no fins. Both body and legs are gray, with the sucking disks reddish. At breeding-time one of the legs of the male octopus  swells up and serves him as a prick or intromittent organ; it is jerked loose by the female, who carries it away, and so seven-legged octopusses are sometimes seen. The Tahiti octopus  is tough, and must be pounded before it is cooked; but, if properly prepared, it is just as good as those of Italy or Gibraltar. It is common on the barrier-reef, and is called by the Indians feé. ( Sepia barffi  . (In the sea, near Tautira.))”.

Identity. The description of the Tahiti octopus  provided by Curtiss seems to agree well with Octopus cyanea Gray, 1849  , even though we acknowledge that the colouration of living animals can be variable. Males of Octopus cyanea  are known to wave a raised and coiled modified arm tip at the females during courtship displays ( Norman 2000), which also agrees with Curtiss’s observation on the apparent swelling of a leg in males during the breeding season. Octopus cyanea  is one of the most common near shore species on the coral reefs of the tropical Indo- Pacific, and the animals are collected and sold in fish markets in the central and southern Pacific ( Norman 1998).