Octopus mating at Atmosphere resort Philippines. Photo by Daniel Norwood

It’s Valentines Day! On land many couples will be celebrating with chocolates, roses, a romantic dinner, and a little bit of… 
Beneath the waves, things are done a little differently; sex changing fish, penis fencing, and consuming your mate – making our human antics look pretty mundane!

Innocent little Nemo?

Of all the world’s animals, fish are the most ‘sexually fluid’, switching from male to female (protandrous), or female to male (protogynous). Clown (or anemonefish) are a famous example. With only one large female in each anemone, the next largest fish is the leading lady’s baby-daddy. However, when she ‘pops her clogs’ the male promptly turns into a female and takes another mate under his fin. 

Love hurts

When it comes to sex, sharks pass on foreplay and relationships and just get straight to the, rather rough, baby making. With males literally biting onto the female’s fins to wrestle her in place, mating between sharks can hurt. So much so, females have evolved much thicker skin around their pectoral fins.

Ominous octopuses

With all those arms, you’d think Octopuses would be great huggers. Unfortunately their mating habits are less than romantic. Males insert their ‘penis arm’ into the female’s oviduct in an attempt to sew their oats. Get a little too close to your mate however, and the female has been known to strangle her sperm donor!

Octopus mating at Atmosphere resort Philippines. Photo by Daniel Norwood

Octopus mating – not so subtle! Photo by Daniel Norwood

Cross-dressing cuttlefish

Female cuttlefish are notoriously choosy, rejecting up to 70% of eager mates. To gain an advantage some males have been known to cross-dress. By mimicking female colouring, and tucking in their modified fourth arm (which delivers sperm packets) they are able to sneak up on the ladies. When the other males are preoccupied with looking all macho, our sneaky friend sweeps in to seal the deal.

Self-sacrificing anglerfish

These deep sea creatures (closely related to frogfish) may have THE most disturbing mating ritual (although we haven’t gotten to sea slugs yet). Male anglerfish are tiny compared to the large female, and in a vast, dark and deep ocean it’s hard to find food, let alone a mate. So, the sweet little male uses his sense of smell to track down a lady friend and then things get a little ‘weird’. The male bites onto the female’s belly and his jawbones start to disintegrate, merging his flesh with hers. Eventually all that remains of him is his sack of sperm, which the female uses when and if she wants too!

Frogfish at Amosphere Resort Philipines. Photo by Jerome Kim

Friends or lovers? Two frogfish flirting. Photo by Jerome Kim

Sea slug sex (proceed with caution)

Sea slug sex, is varied, kinky, and often just plain dangerous! When you’re harbouring both male and female reproductive organs (sea slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites) it’s not difficult to find a mate. With the fun taken out of the chase, maybe that’s why copulation itself has evolved to be quite so… colourful? A few techniques sea slugs like to indulge in;
– Fencing with your ‘syringe-like’ penis, aiming to jab your partner multiple times.
– Forming long ‘mating chains’ and conger-ing around the reef for days.
– Simultaneous penetration in the head with split, barbed penises – which can occasionally create more wounds than babies. 
– Self-amputating their disposable penis after sex, only to uncoil a spare.

Nudibranchs and sea slugs  win the race of strangest mating habits! Photographed at Atmosphere Resort Philippines by Kirsty Richards and Don Tan

Nudibranchs and sea slugs win the race of strangest mating habits!

With all that said ladies and gentlemen, we wish you and your loved one a happy valentines day!

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