An octopus with a varsity link

December 20, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 24, 2016 11:02 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:

Species named Cistopus platinoidus to mark platinum jubilee of KU

An octopus swimming in the shallow coastal waters of Kerala may not have much to do with the University of Kerala, forget something to do with the university’s platinum jubilee.

But one new species of the eight-legged cephalopod, discovered recently in the State’s coastal waters, has been named Cistopus platinoidus, the latter part of the name coming to commemorate the platinum jubilee of the university, during which the discovery was made.

Results of the study

The results of the study on the Cistopus platinoidus are published in the latest issue of the international taxonomy journal Zootaxa, according to an official press release from the varsity here.

The press release also said that the newly discovered species was part of a distinctive and poorly resolved genus, the Cistopus (pouched octopus), whose member species are characterised by possession of eight mucous pouches in a ring around the mouth between the arm bases.

Water pouches

These pouches were previously been termed as water pouches/water pores, but of late they were reported to produce mucous that may aid in the construction of subsurface burrows in soft sediment substrates.

Sole species

The old women octopus, Cistopus indicus, was mistakenly recognised as the sole species in this genus for a long time and the name was applied to all specimens found in the area of southern China, Taiwan, the Philippines, northern Indonesia, and west of India.

The report on the ‘platinoidus’ was authored by A. Biju Kumar and V. Sreeja of Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, and noted octopus taxonomist Mark Norman of Museum Victoria, Melbourne.

Interestingly, their report also points out that the annual landing of octopuses in India was to the tune of about 6,000 tonnes, with nearly 95 per cent of octopus landings being collected by trawlers and a reported catch rate of approximately 1.2 kg per hour.

Highly prized

Members of the genus Cistopus were highly prized as fisheries targets throughout their range, with at least one species C. chinensis, being reported as suffering declines from overexploitation.

The research team is in the process of describing the other six new species of octopuses from the Kerala coast, indicating the rich diversity of octopods from Kerala coast.

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