Octopus and Squid in Rapa Nui and other Pacific Islands
By Sergio Carrasco, Universidad Católica del Norte, ESMOI, Coquimbo
Figura 1. Mapa de la Polinesia del autor Te Rangi Hiroa/Sir Peter Buck, en: E.M. DeLoughrey (2007). Routes and Roots. Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures.
Figura 2. En Rapa Nui, cerca de trece petroglifos de pulpos han sido documentados, la mayoría grabados en rocas de la costa norte de la isla. Imágenes
de: G. Lee (1992). Rock art of Easter Island, symbols of
power, prayers to the gods (Vol. 17). Institute of Archaeology University of California.
Figura 3. En la mitología Maori, Te Whekea- Muturangi era un pulpo monstruoso al que se enfrentó el navegante Kupe en la Bahía de Whekenui, Aotearoa. El wheke era una criatura salvaje y un guardián.
Through genetic studies, it was possible to corroborate that the latter photo corresponds to paralarvae of the endemic octopus, Octopus rapanui, a species native to the Island that has not been registered in any other part of the world. Its short life cycle and the relatively warm temperatures of the waters around Rapa Nui allow these small paralarvae (~1 mm) to reach adult size (~70 cm/28 in) in approximately one year.
Figura 4. En orden descendente: (A) Ommastrephes bartamii; escala 1.5 mm (B) Chtenopteryx sp.;escala 1.5 mm (C, D) Enoploteutidos indeterminados,escala 2.5 mm(E) Octopus rapanui (escala 0.5 mm).
In descending order: (A) Ommastrephes bartamii; scale 1.5 mm (B) Chtenopteryx sp.; scale 1.5 mm (C, D) undetermined Enoploteutidos, scale 2.5 mm (E) Octopus rapanui; scale 0.5 mm.
© Photos by Sergio Carrasco
© Photos by Carla Robles Orca Diving Center
Figura 5. Pulpos rapanui en Playa Anakena durante Rapanui octopus at Anakena Beach during Agosto 2018 / August 2018
In general terms, the cephalopods not only constitute an important historic source within the cultures which have inhabited the varied islands of the Pacific, but have also played (and continue to play) a crucial role in the various trophic levels of the sea, becoming important nutritional vectors (as both predators and prey) for many different species of invertebrates and vertebrates of the higher trophic levels, including tuna, sharks, sea birds and up to humans (Figure 6). For this reason, it is important to know their biology and life story in order to achieve an efficient conservation of their populations.
Figura 6. Ilustración de un cardumen atunes aleta amarilla en busca de su presa, calamares, del autor Cristián Silva Araki, en: P. Núñez (2014). He ´a´amu o te kahi rāua ko te korohu’a hi hika e tahi: Una historia entre montes submarinos.
In the sand of Rapa Nui there are animals so small that they can hardly be seen with the bare eye. You need a microscope to see them. These animals live in the small spaces between sand grains.
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