Seasonal observations of an ever changing coastal landscape 
by Bold Bluff host Tamar Griggs 

Bold Bluff Nature Diary.

Octopus on Beach - A Devoted Mom Sad Story

Date: 5/7/03
Time: 6:58:10 AM
Remote Name:


Last week a gooey mass of purpley flesh washed up onto our beach - a Giant Pacific Octopus, with all of its 8 legs chopped off close to its body-head. A few exquisite white suction cups like delicate flowers remained, measuring 1 and a quarter inch in diameter. Poor Octopus! Maybe a seal got it, or more likely someone hunted it out of its cave at low tide and chopped off it's yummy legs for supper. Perhaps it died after laying its thousands of tiny eggs and nurturing and cleaning them for 8 months without dining - literally protecting its precious brood at the expense of its own life. When their babies are well on their way to fend for themselves in the precarious ocean environment of eat or be eaten, Mama simply curls up and dies. Have you heard of the intelligence of these creatures of the deep? A few years ago, the crabs were disappearing in a tank in the Vancouver Aquarium, and no one could figure out what was happening, until someone had the bright idea to keep 24 hour watch on the tank. At night, when the Aquarium was dark and "asleep", a Giant Pacific Octopus climbed out of its tank, walked all the way across the room, climbed into the crab tank, feasted, and went back to its tank before dawn! It did this again and again! Here is another Octopus story, about the miniature octopus who live in our waters. Dr. Bill Austin, from the Marine Ecology Station in Sidney, BC had a little Mama octpus named Ruby, who lived in a tiny cup in the aquarium, gave birth to hundreds of teensy tiny white plankton that bounced up and down in the tiny tank. For eight months she cleaned and protected her massive brood of babies, not eating. Finally, she crawled out of her cup, went to the corner of the tank, and died. To the astonishment of the Ecology staff, all the babies disappeared. They finally figured out that the little babies crawled up their tank, squeezed over the top edge, (which had a board on top) crawled down the outside tank into the water tray below their aquarium, and went back to sea through the drain pipe!

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