Friday Cephalopod: Your mother sacrificed so much for you…

Have you called her lately? Look at this mother octopus, clinging to a deep-sea cliff, hanging over the abyss, guarding her clutch of eggs.


She stayed there, never leaving, for four years. The MBARI submersible would regularly visit the spot and check on her, and there she was, getting weaker and weaker, but still defending her brood…until one day they checked, and she was gone, and there was only a heap of hatched-out husks of her eggs.

If she were human, I’d say that was so lonely, so sad. But maybe an octopus finds hovering over eggs for years and years and starving to death fulfilling.


  1. Usernames! ☞ ♭ says

    Wow, four years. First thing that popped into my head, though, was this quote from this ancient talkie Coneheads:

    If, for some reason your life functions ceased, my most precious one, I would collapse, I would draw the shades and I would live in the dark. I would never get out of my slar pad or clean myself. My fluids would coagulate, my cone would shrivel, and I would die, miserable and lonely. The stench would be great.

  2. Rich Woods says

    I’ve seen this story before, but at the time I’m sure it said she’d been there for just eleven months. Four years, for Cthulhu’s sake!

  3. says

    if she were human, she would have been institutionalized (provided that a bed somewhere still existed) for being a danger to herself and for being a bad influence on the kids.

  4. F.O. says

    Wow. I didn’t even expect cephalopods to live so long. o_O
    4 years both her and the eggs without food? o_O
    TFA sez the depth was 1400m. Is such an environment enough to require such a slow metabolism?

    Also, that’s a very exposed position. 4 years without any predator forcing her to flee?

    Also also, what happens to male octopuses after they mate? They just go along with their lives? If so, I’d expect fierce competition for the females.

  5. David Marjanović says

    I didn’t know they lived that long either; I’ll have to waffle about cold temperatures and slow metabolism. Four years is longer than any whale’s pregnancy!

    IN Nepal […] the tiny Himalayan nation

    “Tiny”? FFS. It’s about as tiny as California.