“Octomom” never leaves her eggs unattended. Image extracted from video below.
This video presents “Deep-sea octopus invests in future: Longest brooding period ever recorded.”
- “At the sediment-covered base of a sloping wall in the Monterey Submarine Canyon, off central California, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four and one half years—longer than any other known animal: from May, 2007 to September, 2011, or 53 months.
- Throughout this time, the female kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators.
- This strategy has apparently worked for Graneledone boreopacifica—it is one of the most common deep-sea octopuses in the Northeastern Pacific.
- From HD video frame grabs of the empty capsules and the characteristic green cement of their anchor points we estimate the clutch size to have been between 155 and 165 eggs.”
Original journal article: Robison B., Seibel B., Drazen J. (2014), Deep-sea octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica) conducts the longest-known egg-brooding period of any animal. PLoS ONE 9(7): e103437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103437
Photographic and Video Documentation
This study provided photographic and video documentation of the tenacity of “Octomom” – a deep-sea octopus – to remarkably brood eggs for over four years which is by far the longest egg-brooding period ever reported for any animal species.
“Octopuses typically have a single reproductive period and then they die (semelparity). Once a clutch of fertilized eggs has been produced, the female protects and tends them until they hatch….In the cold, dark waters of the deep ocean, metabolic processes are often slower than their counterparts at shallower depths… Likewise, laboratory studies have linked lower temperatures to longer brooding periods in cephalopods, but direct evidence has not been available. We found an opportunity to directly measure the brooding period of the deep-sea octopus Graneledone boreopacifica, in its natural habitat. At 53 months, it is by far the longest egg-brooding period ever reported for any animal species.
The ultimate fate of a brooding female octopus is invariably death, but in this first example from the deep-sea, brooding also confers an extension of adult life that greatly exceeds most projections of cephalopod longevity.
This study did not involve endangered or protected species. The location of the study site was 36° 42′ N, 122° 03′ W, at a depth of 1397 meters. Field work was conducted under NOAA Office of Marine Sanctuaries permit MBNMS 2005-010-A3, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientific collecting permit D-0004069542-0; no specimens were collected.”
Robison B, Seibel B, Drazen J (2014) Deep-Sea Octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica) Conducts the Longest-Known Egg-Brooding Period of Any Animal. PLoS ONE 9(7): e103437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103437
Photography and Videography Via Ventana, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
ROV Ventana was built for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute by International Submarine Engineering. The specifications for Ventana were developed by David Packard and the original core group of scientists and engineers at MBARI. The vehicle was delivered in 1988 with a standard suite of instruments and cameras. Data collection sensors, a high definition camera, and animal collection devices have been added. As requirements changed and requests for tasks grew Ventana has evolved into its present configuration. Image by MBARI.
Ventana includes these features. (Info was last updated on Mar. 07, 2013.)
- The forward-looking camera sytems are mounted on pan-and-tilt units.
- The main viewing camera is a High Definition Insite Zeus Plus and is mounted in a three-axis pan-and-tilt that is capable of plus or minus 45 degrees of pan and +45, –100 degrees of tilt.
- Two forward looking cameras, a wide angle Insite Aurora and an Insight Orion Zoom, are mounted on a single two-axis pan-and-tilt above the main camera with a range of 270 degrees of pan and 120 degrees of tilt.
- There are also self-contained time-lapse video cameras.
- One major component of the Ventana’s control system is the camera control graphical user interface (GUI) and lap controller station and single board computer (SBC) to drive the main camera.
- Camera Systems
- One Ikegama HD camera with HA10X5.2 Fujinon Zoom Lens
- Six Insight Orion zoom cameras with integrated pilot control
- VARS Video Capture System (direct from RGB Sony Feed), HDSPI capable
- Sony digital Betacam (D1), and Panasonic AJ-HD2000 high definition recorder (D5)
- Dynair 30 X 30 Video Switch (ROV control room)
- Focal 903 digital multiplexer, 21 RS232 serial, 5 RS485 serial, 4 Subsea USB
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
July 30, 2014
Deep-sea octopus broods eggs for over four years—longer than any known animal
This female octopus was photographed in May 2007 clinging to a rocky wall in Monterey Canyon less than a month after she laid her eggs and began brooding them. Image: © 2007 MBARI
Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four and one half years—longer than any other known animal. Throughout this time, the female kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators. This amazing feat represents an evolutionary balancing act between the benefits to the young octopuses of having plenty of time to develop within their eggs, and their mother’s ability to survive for years with little or no food.
Every few months for the last 25 years, a team of MBARI researchers led by Bruce Robison has performed surveys of deep-sea animals at a research site in the depths of Monterey Canyon that they call “Midwater 1.” In May 2007, during one of these surveys, the researchers discovered a female octopus clinging to a rocky ledge just above the floor of the canyon, about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) below the ocean surface. The octopus, a species known as Graneledone boreopacifica, had not been in this location during their previous dive at this site in April.
Over the next four and one-half years, the researchers dove at this same site 18 times. Each time, they found the same octopus, which they could identify by her distinctive scars, in the same place. As the years passed, her translucent eggs grew larger and the researchers could see young octopuses developing inside. Over the same period, the female gradually lost weight and her skin became loose and pale.
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