Anti-Caturday: A giant in the deeps

Photograph by Bob Cranston—Animals Animals - Earth Scenes via Nationa Geographic
Photograph by Bob Cranston—Animals Animals - Earth Scenes via Nationa Geographic

Meet the giant pacific octopus. Easily bigger than a grown man0 (they grow be about 3 to 5 m or 9.75 to 16 ft long), they mostly live deep in the ocean. They eat pretty much anything they can get their arms on, including sharks and unwary birds, though mostly they just eat clams, lobsters and other fish. They are quite intelligent- able to open jars and solve mazes in lab conditions – like all cephalopods they can change the color and texture of their skin to match their background.

The thing that makes the giant pacific octopus stand out from the crowd though, is their reproduction. Both the male and female die soon after mating, but the female goes above and beyond the call of duty. After mating she goes off to find a nice little hidey-hole to lay her eggs. After they are layed she stays there lovingly fondling the eggs until they hatch. This ensures that the eggs get a steady flow of oxygen and no fungi have a chance to set and that fish don’t eat them. During this time she never leaves the cubby, not even to eat. Around the time the eggs start to hatch or soon after, she dies. Talk about a dedicated mother.

Giant Pacific Octopus courtesy of Chris Wilson
Giant Pacific Octopus courtesy of Chris Wilson
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