World’s largest deep-sea octopus nursery discovered

Date: October 29, 2018

Source: National Geographic
Author: Jason Bittel

Off the coast of Monterey, California, and some two miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, scientists piloting a remotely-operated submersible saw something no one has ever seen before.

Octopuses. Hundreds of them. Huddled on a rocky outcrop at the base of an underwater mountain.

“We went down the eastern flank of this small hill, and that’s when—boom—we just started seeing pockets of dozens here, dozens there, dozens everywhere,” says Chad King, chief scientist on the Exploration VesselNautilus.

All in all, King estimates that more than 1,000 octopuses known as Muusoctopus robustus were nestled among the rocks, most of which appeared to be inverted, or turned inside out. For this species, that inside-out pose is common among females that are brooding, or protecting their growing young. In some cases, the submersible’s camera could even spot tiny embryos cradled within their mothers’ arms.

“Out of that 1,000, we might have seen two or three octopuses that were just swimming around,” says King, who is also a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “So I’d say almost 99 percent were brooding.”

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