ICES Journal of Marine Science, 63: 151-160

Seasonal population dynamics of Octopus vulgaris in the eastern Mediterranean

 Stelios Katsanevakis and George Verriopoulos

 Department of Zoology-Marine Biology, School of Biology,  University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis, 15784 Athens, Greece 



The population density of Octopus vulgaris was measured by visual census with scuba diving in coastal areas in Greece (eastern Mediterranean). A time-variant, stage-classified, matrix population model was developed to interpret the seasonal variation of octopus stage densities and to estimate several life cycle parameters. An annual and a semi-annual periodic cycle were found in the stage densities. A main peak of benthic settlement was observed during summer and a secondary, irregular one during late autumn. Two spawning peaks were estimated, a main one during late winter – spring and a secondary one during late summer – early autumn. More than 50% of the just-settled individuals will eventually die after 3 months. Mortality rate declines as individuals grow larger, reaches a minimum approximately 6 months after settlement, and then grows again probably because of terminal spawning. The life expectancy of recently-settled individuals (<50g) during their summer peak is approximately 5 months. The life-span of the common octopus is estimated to be between 12 and 15 months. The octopuses’ mean specific growth rates (± s.d.) in their natural environment were 1.61 ± 0.30 d-1 for 50-200 g individuals and 1.19 ± 0.31 d-1 for 200-500 g individuals.