THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A new species of octopus found in the coastal waters of the state has been named Cistopus platinoidus, to commemorate the platinum jubilee of Kerala University.
It has taken the number of known species of pouched octopuses found in India to three and globally, four.
The finding has been reported in the latest issue of the international taxonomy journal ‘Zootaxa’, said Dr A Biju Kumar, associate professor and head of the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, Kerala University, who is one of the authors.
Authors, Biju Kumar and Dr V Sreeja, of the same department and octopus taxonomist Mark Norman of Museum Victoria, Melbourne, reported that pouched octopuses landed in India represent a mixture of three species, Cistopus indicus, Cistopus taiwanicus and the newly described Cistopus platinoidus.
“The old women octopus, Cistopus indicus was mistakenly recognised as the sole pouched octopus species for a long time and the name had been applied to all specimens found in southern China, Taiwan, the Philippines, northern Indonesia and west to India. But later Cistopus taiwanicus was reported from Taiwan, and Cistopus chinensis from the East and South China Seas,” Biju Kumar said in a statement.
Cistopus platinoidus is the latest entrant in this list. “The new species is distinguished from the three Cistopus species on the basis of sucker counts in arms, the number and position of enlarged suckers in males, web depths, and egg size,” he said.
The annual landing of octopuses in India is to the tune of about 6,000 tonnes and they are in demand in the west as a delicacy. Trawlers account for more than 90 per cent of the catch. In fact, at least one species, Cistopus chinensis suffers from overexploitation.