The marine fauna of New Zealand: Octopoda (Mollusca: Cephalopoda)

Steve O'Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


The New Zealand octopod fauna (Mollusca: Cephalopoda: Octopoda) is revised, with a total of 39 species recorded and described. Several changes to established classifications of the Cirrata and the incirrate family Octopodidae are proposed. Six octopod families (two new), 14 genera (two new) and three species are newly recorded from New Zealand waters. Nine records of species from New Zealand are synonymised, and two species are removed from earlier synonymy and redescribed as distinct species. The New Zealand finned (cirrate) octopod fauna as herein recognised comprises four families, seven genera and nine species; two new families are proposed, seven new species are described, with two additional species identified only to genus. Luteuthididae nov. is described to accommodate a single new genus Luteuthis. A second new family, Grimpoteuthididae, is proposed to accommodate two genera, Grimpoteuthis (revised) and a new genus, Enigmatiteuthis. The genus Cirroctopus Naef, 1921, is removed from the synonymy of Grimpoteuthis, and accommodated with Opisthoteuthis in a revised family Opisthoteuthididae. The fourth cirrate family represented in New Zealand waters, Cirroteuthididae, contains two species identified only to genus, Cirroteuthis sp. and Cirrothauma sp. The New Zealand non-finned (incirrate) fauna comprises seven families, three subfamilies, 17 genera, and 30 species, including 12 that are new to science. Species previously admitted into the New Zealand fauna based solely on identifications of beak or tissue remains from gut contents of long-distance-foraging bird and whale species are critically evaluated: one family, genus and species are excluded from the New Zealand fauna. No changes are proposed to the classification of any of the seven incirrate families, although new records and minor nomenclatural changes are made for many species, and the classification of the Octopodidae is re-evaluated on the basis of apparent relationships between species with and without ink sacs. Three nominal subfamilies of the Octopodidae are recognised in New Zealand waters, Octopodinae, Bathypolypodinae, and Graneledoninae. Notable changes to previous classifications of the Octopodinae include removal of Pinnoctopus d'Orbigny from synonymy of Octopus, and recognition of four discrete groups of Octopus (sensu lato) morphology. Within the Bathypolypodinae, three species of Benthoctopus (s.l.) are described, and within the Graneledoninae a new species and a new subspecies of Graneledone are described, one is redescribed, and two new species of Thaumeledone are proposed. After excluding several Octopus (s.l.) species common to both New Zealand and Australia, for which the distribution could be attributed to larval dispersal, there are clear biogeographic relationships between New Zealand and Australia, the central Pacific Islands, South Africa, South America, and Japan. No newly designated group of Octopus (s.l.) morphology is endemic to New Zealand. Biogeographic relationships between deep-sea octopods remain obscure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-278
Number of pages274
JournalNIWA Biodiversity Memoirs
Issue number112
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeography
  • Cephalopoda
  • Cirrata
  • Incirrata
  • Marine fauna
  • New families
  • New genera
  • New species
  • New Zealand
  • Octopoda
  • Systematics


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