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The Kid Should See This

A mother octopus diligently guards and aerates her eggs until they hatch

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“A female giant Pacific octopus only has one chance at breeding in her five-year lifespan. When she’s ready to lay her eggs — up to 80,000 of them — she finds a rocky den and settles down for a long wait.

“It can take 6-10 months for the baby octopus’ to develop, and during that time, the female won’t leave their side. She won’t eat, but will protect the eggs and fan them to keep them oxygenated and free from bacteria and algae as she slowly dies, making the ultimate sacrifice for her babies.”

This CBC Docs short chronicles the final act of a female octopus’s life: diligently guarding and caring for clusters of her developing embryos as she experiences senescence, a term for rapid aging.

octopus mother
And when the rice grain-size paralarvae finally begin to hatch, she gently blows them out of the den and into open water, where their instincts take them to the surface to ride the cold-water currents with other plankton.

“Of her 80,000 eggs,” the short film reports, “only a few will survive to maturity.” During their planktonic stage, the tiny babies can be eaten by planktivorous organisms and animals before growing large enough to “descend to an adult habitat in the mesopelagic or bathypelagic zone.”

octopus eggs, a close-up
Watch these octopus videos next:
• A deep-sea octopus that protects her eggs for four and a half years
Independent baby cephalopods in their first moments
• Is this octopus dreaming?
• Octopus vs Mark Rober’s Underwater Maze
Can the octopus help us understand how aliens might think?

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