Octo-mama broods over eggs for a record breaking 4.5 years

Screen capture Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

When scientists first came across octo-mom, a deep sea Graneledone boreopacifica octopus, at Montery Bay in 2007, she was cradling her eggs in her arms. She lay on a rocky outcrop, 1397 meters deep.

They never expected that 4 years later they would still find her protecting her eggs. Her devotion was strong, helping her eggs get the best chance of survival in the depths of the sea, where life can be tough. Throughout, the scientists never saw her eat and when they tried to bring her crab meat, she didn’t touch it. They told Science they suspected she ate unfertilized or damaged eggs.

As time went by, she seemed to physically deteriorate, losing her color and turning white. To identify her, they had to look for scars on her arms.

One day, at 53 months, they returned and she was gone. In her place were empty eggs, a sign that the babies had finally hatched. The octo-mom is likely dead – female octopuses die once they finish brooding. But she now holds the record for the longest brooding animal on the planet.

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