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Deep-sea octopus invests in future: Longest brooding period ever recorded

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Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four and one half years—much longer than any other known animal. Throughout this time, the female kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators. This amazing feat represents an evolutionary balancing act between the benefits to the young octopuses of having plenty of time to develop within their eggs, and their mother’s ability to survive for years with little or no food. Although long-term observations of deep-sea animals are rare, the researchers propose that extended brooding periods may be common in the deep sea. Such extended life stages would need to be taken into account in assessing the effects of human activities on deep-sea animals. In any case, this strategy has apparently worked for Graneledone boreopacifica—it is one of the most common deep-sea octopuses in the Northeastern Pacific. Video producer: Susan von Thun Script and narration: Bruce Robison Production support: Nancy Jacobsen Stout, Kyra Schlining, Lonny Lundsten, Linda Kuhnz MBARI press release: http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2014/octomom/octomom-release.html Original journal article: Robison B., Seibel B., Drazen J. (2014), Deep-sea octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica) conducts the longest-known egg-brooding period of any animal. PLoS ONE 9(7): e103437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103437
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Text Comments (176)
Digital Assassin (4 months ago)
They will grow up resenting their mother for leaving them so young and will never know that their mother truly loved them and gave up her life for them, how sad. :,(
Digital Assassin (4 months ago)
Can you imagine the mothers fustration when just a few moments before the eggs hatch, some asshole fish came and gobbled up all the eggs lol.
Lepe (4 months ago)
I mean this isn't particularly interesting, unless you find at least a couple more examples of this it could be she was just mortally sick and could barely move. She could've even ate her offspring in the meanwhile.
fhhsvnggbh (7 months ago)
why 29cms. could you not space it so it rounds nicely to 30cms??? hahaha At least your using the metric system!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tay h (8 months ago)
This is even more beautiful and heartbreaking than the end to Charlotte's web.
IGameChangerI (8 months ago)
I wonder if it maybe leaves every now and then and we're just missing it every time. Would it be possible to place a camera or other recording device next to one? That'd be an interesting long-term livestream, or timelapse at the least.
Jim M (8 months ago)
That is fascinating, as is most of your videos. Thanks.
Antoine Morin-Prévost (9 months ago)
I love these videos, fascinating stuff
اسناد بن سند (9 months ago)
Traci Adi (9 months ago)
Wow that was fascinating!!!
Aether Slugstar (9 months ago)
I'm in tears. I haven't cried this hard is a long time. I wish I hadn't watched this.
Simon Sozzi (10 months ago)
Wow. That blows my mind! Amazing. Beautiful.
Jay B (10 months ago)
This made me sad
HOUSE OF MANA (1 year ago)
Please let us fix your stereo field or at least give suggestions into how to properly mix audio for press. The audio is jarringly off. This amazing research institute deserves best-in-class audio mixing to go with their awesome footage and insightful and pleasing dialogue. Thank you!
Anne Bruecks (1 year ago)
Bad Cattitude (1 year ago)
What kind of mothers day card do you get for *that?*
Ekbro1 (1 year ago)
Wow what a life, I wonder what that octopus experiences. Just sitting there for 4 years...
SlowFox (1 year ago)
If only single mothers of the Human sort would be as loving/responsible as this octopus........ lolololololololol
Pete Kuhns (1 year ago)
This is close-to-unimaginable: a living entity can survive that long without eating and do it willingly and continuously. Unreal...
gingergiggles (1 year ago)
I- Oh my god that was so touching?? And what a beautiful octopus she is
Lugmillord (1 year ago)
Mother of the year. ...of 5 years.
poesiaenobras (1 year ago)
Guys, really, congratulations on the amazing work that you do. It is really spectacular. You have my dream job. Keep it up!!
Carboncluster (1 year ago)
Did you find traces of cannibalism after the eggs hatched? It looks like the mother was growing weaker and weaker and would eventually die
Carboncluster (1 year ago)
No, I mean do the babies eat the (dead?) body of the mother after they hatch?
Female octopus don't appear to eat during this last stage of their lives.
Melur Fatima Haris (1 year ago)
I'm happy because the mother had successfully guard her babies and sad at the same time because she had gone :( thank you for the great vid, greetings from Indonesia!
Ina (2 years ago)
Kings of Camouflage
peaelle42 (2 years ago)
... so she managed to survive that brooding without eating at all???
This is dope
JB PJr (2 years ago)
That was pretty effing awesome.
Rippa Da Kid (2 years ago)
Keep it up
Erling Eriksen (2 years ago)
several studies havelinked brooding time to cognitive ability because of the brain having more time to develop without needing to focus on basic survival instincts. I will try to find the studies and linking them later. But my question is if there is a possibility of this squid being more intelligent than others, due to its long brooding time? or what effects it might have and why it would be an advantegious adaptation. Great vids keep up the work!
Richard Schwarz (2 years ago)
Dear Dr. Robison, thank you for posting the video. I am investigating the life duration of some Deep Sea and Antarctic Pareledone species using their beaks and stylets (my mentors are HJHoving and Piatkowski). We believe that the Antarctic octopods have a similar brooding strategy and may achieve the same longevity as Graneledone. Thank you very much, your results served as basis for my PhD research. Best wishes, Rick
Theflowoflove (2 years ago)
Wow, how moving.
Joshua The Science god (2 years ago)
its so peaceful down there I wish I was a jelly fish
Tenebrae (2 years ago)
With the, likely, drastically longer lifespan of these cephalopods…has anyone tested their intelligence? I've read several articles that allude to the possibility that octopuses could be as intelligent as humanity were it not for their short lifespans and solitary lifestyle that limit intellectual development. Aside from the "colony" species recently observed as learning from one another, if this one lives so long…perhaps it possesses a higher intelligence, or maybe higher potential that isn't fully realized? That aside, have their ever been any attempts to teach an Octopus some form of communication; something akin to sign language comes to mind, but perhaps color or even writing could be taught. I often see tests done to gauge their problem solving capabilities, but it doesn't appear as though their is much of an effort to teach any form of communication…as though it's automatically written off as impossible. Have you heard any research done on this…?
krap101 (2 years ago)
I think energy might end up being the limiting factor. We discovered fire, which lead to more efficient energy absorption from food, which assisted in frontal lobe development. African Gray parrots have the intelligence of a 5 year old if I recall correctly, so maybe octopus might be similar?
Andrew James (2 years ago)
I've noticed the term "octopuses" being used more recently. Did that change from "octopi" and/or was "octopi" ever the correct term to use? Thanks for all the fascinating vids, I really enjoy them
Trump-a-tron 5000 (9 months ago)
I only accept the Greek version. Period. The word is rooted in Greek, so.... octopodes.
Not to mention I and my preferred style guide, Chicago Manual of Style (*which is the most comprehensive, but often least authoritative, of the major style guides), don't accept "octopi."
Almost certain that isn't correct. "Agendum," for instance, has "agendums," "agenda," and "agendas," thanks to an originally dumb conversion into English ("agenda" can be singular in English but is a plural Latin word).
interface (2 years ago)
eight variants would be podigious
Nemozoli (2 years ago)
+Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) The oldest plural name however is from Ancient Greek - "octopodes", which, albeit rarely used, is also correct. That makes octopus the only (?) word that has three correct plural variants...
Shadez Vengeance (3 years ago)
Oh look its a blooper!!!!!
Incyray (3 years ago)
that is INCREDIBLE. these octopus moms need some SERIOUS mothers day gifts SERIOUSLY :D
yokeimon (3 years ago)
I wonder if the climate and the conditions of the deeper water contributes to the longevity of this octopus or possibly other animals living within a similar environment.
lemons limes (3 years ago)
I guess this octopus wins best mother award.
Theflowoflove (2 years ago)
+Seal Girl  Beautiful.
MrsPredNZ (3 years ago)
almost a year older now how are things going..whats the latst update on her? i ike to know..hope someone  knows...
killer slowpoke (1 year ago)
Most octopi die after they breed, so she's long gone by now. Males will go into a trance-like state, they float around the seafloor and wait until they either get eaten or starve. Females spend the rest of their lives guarding the eggs. Once they've finished and all babies are hatched, she dies of starvation or gets eaten.
Arian Surya (3 years ago)
God is Genius..
A.H (1 year ago)
..your speaking of the works of man, not god. Religion is not god, it's simply people trying to reach out and understand higher powers. What do you think science is? How do you think it started? ..The human mind cannot fathom god's true nature. We are puny and our minds are bound to finite laws. God is infinite and beyond our dimension of perspective so please stop acting like you just debunked some cheap scam. Even if you tried, you couldn't understand what god is. Nobody understands it(yet). Life, death and reason??? God isn't the bad guy watching you suffer, god isn't the one saving you either. God is neither yet both those things combined. I don't state my claims to prove that I'm right, but rather to open your mind and prove that you're wrong. Wake up. You get people that believe in one thing even after it falters at its dead-ends. You get others that believe nothing because they have been failed. You get those that believe in everything, an open reception of inquisition. Right now, decide who you are.
OMalleyTheMaggot (1 year ago)
If God is so smart why did he publish his book thousands of years ago when he knew the internet would exist at a later date? Why did he only let himself be known to a small area of the world when every continent beside Antarctica was already populated at that point?
Ethan Kutcher (1 year ago)
God kills children everyday with horrible and painful diseases.
Sridhar Deshpande (3 years ago)
Yes ,I have been watching your research upon sea animals ,its good and like to know more
ihrv23 (4 years ago)
so awesome
Whoa. That's amazing!
Nicole White (4 years ago)
This deep sea octopus incubated her eggs for over 4 1/2 years. Octopus mothers never leave their eggs, but most eggs hatch within 4 moths; which is mind-blowing in itself because the mother literally gives her life up as the babies hatch. This female protected her babies for over 50 months...the longest incubation period known in any species.
)Peron1-MC( (4 years ago)
00:31 aw theyre so cute :)
inyazserg Sergey Larin (4 years ago)
What`s the longest brooding period on Earth?
inyazserg Sergey Larin (4 years ago)
+MBARI So, your octopus might be the longest brooding creature on Earth. PS Thanks for your answer.
The 53-month brooding period that we measured considerably exceeds all such records in the literature. Previously, the longest octopus brooding known was 14 months, attributed to Bathypolypus arcticus on the basis of specimens kept in the laboratory at 7°C. The longest guarded incubation known for fish eggs is 4–5 months, by the Magellan Plunder Fish Harpagifer bispinis in Antarctic waters. For birds, the longest uninterrupted egg brooding is 2 months, by the Emperor Penguin. Among live-bearing species, elephants gestate for 20 to 21 months, frilled sharks carry their embryos internally for about 42 months, and the internal gestation period of alpine salamanders can reach 48 months before birth. Excerpt from the publication http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0103437
Byron Hamel (4 years ago)
Just incredible!
S Rahman (4 years ago)
The bigger question which 10 people disliked this video? Seriously how can anyone dislike this I'm not even into this and I won't dislike it. These people must be freaks..
Nemozoli (2 years ago)
+Madeline McAdams ...or they weren't gestated in their mother's womb, but rather in an alien birthing pod... belonging to the lizard people!
Madeline McAdams (3 years ago)
+S Rahman Actually, it is now 14 dislikes, but that is nothing compared to 1233 likes. I bet the 14 didn't even finish the video
Thrro Pones (4 years ago)
Energy conservation questions: As far as I can tell, no research has been done on this species (or else it is not publicly available) other than the little bit of information here. Although there are many other species which go a very long time without food, by using a number of adaptations which this octopus could potentially have some form of itself. Fat stores: Or similar systems. Instead of using all it's energy immediately, most lifeforms create stores of chemical energy for times of survival. Creatures like penguins can go almost half a year on this feature alone, and they expend large amounts of energy just to stay warm. Low dormant metabolism: Easily observable in reptiles, having a low metabolic rate when not doing anything is incredibly helpful for saving energy. Snakes can go a whole year, by having their metabolisms effectively shut off in the cold. Even more impressively, crocodiles can go up to 3 years without actually going into a hibernation like state at any point, simply because ambient temperatures are generally high in their climates. Detritivores: Aquatic detritivores can survive off of dead material floating through ocean currents. Obvious examples are immobile creatures like sea sponges, but surprisingly there is a living species of cephalopod that eats a very similar diet. The vampire squid, is this species. It doesn't live without food, it just doesn;t need to do anything to get the food. It uses a long protrusion which has small grabby hairs to hold onto the things that float by it. It is likely that the deep sea octopus has some energy storage, as very few animals don't. The specimen doesn't seem to move much during the brood, which suggests a low dormant metabolism. While it does not have any clear systems for eating nearby food particles, it is still possible that the octopus can manage it otherwise. Of course there is a chance that this species has evolved some brand new trait, which allows it to go for long periods without clear feeding. Only more studying of the creature can truly tell us it's secrets.
J Doe (1 year ago)
Thrro Pones transdermL feeding is my guess. deep sea saltwaterhae almost every element needed in quantities imho suitable for immortality if unimpeded against.
Also, low temperatures and inactivity help by keeping metabolic demand low. We saw no evidence of feeding during brooding. It is certainly possible that the mother feeds on the surrounding fauna or that in the course of protecting her eggs she feeds on would-be egg predators like Lithodid crabs. Resorption of unlaid eggs is known in other species, as is feeding on unfertilized or diseased eggs. Among deep-sea squids, species that brood their eggs rely on digestive gland lipid stores to meet their extended nutritional needs, but octopods are not known to store lipid as extensively. Regardless of how their nutritional needs are met, female G. boreopacifica spend a long time brooding.
There are many deep-sea species that we know very little about. The difficulty in studying animals in the habitat is great. With costs for ships and ROVs and the ability to find the species of interest, researchers have many hurdles to answering the multitude of questions we have about deep-sea species. Your thoughts on energy conservation are well thought out and we have very little evidence to point to how exactly the brooding octopus does survive. We do know that it has clearly found a way to survive with very little food for long periods of time.
Vettri Selvan (4 years ago)
1:07 smiley face
Pablo PSI (4 years ago)
looks like the octopus babe n men in black!
Captain Chompers (4 years ago)
Omg, they're too cute! May I has?
Fader Official (3 years ago)
+Kendall Rust Ikr... she spent probs most of her life protecting em. 
Captain Chompers (3 years ago)
+Dark Child She really does, that's children for you.
Fader Official (3 years ago)
+Kendall Rust and the mom looked so tired and sad.
Kristopher G (4 years ago)
That's really something.. Wow
Davorn Uryn (4 years ago)
1:09 :)
LeBaron (4 years ago)
Reminds me of the Star Makers from Courage the Cowardly Dog
noR10swDBaur (4 years ago)
darkmethodz (4 years ago)
What fish is that at 2:28?
That fish is the Pacific flatnose, Antimora microlepis. They are found living near the seafloor on the continental slope of the north Pacific. They eat benthic invertebrates and are frequently taken as by-catch by rockfish and sole fisheries operating within its range.
Slamz Dunk (4 years ago)
extinct (4 years ago)
So beautiful makes me almost cry
ThatGuyKappa (4 years ago)
Holion wei (4 years ago)
such patience
You (4 years ago)
Holy💩 are those giant crab at 1:16 into the video?
FlashV (4 years ago)
But in the time you didnt come in and visit the octupus couldve be gone right? So its either between 48ish and 53 months of brooding period. How could the octopus survive without any food is incomprehensible for me? Anyone care to explain? 
+wakaka2waka No, we didn't see the dead octopus, just the hatched eggcases. In the deep sea, there are many scavengers so dead animals disappear pretty quickly. For example, all of those crabs that you can see near the brooding site would definitely eat a dead octopus give the opportunity.
wakaka2waka (2 years ago)
+MBARI Did you observe the corpse of the mother octopus nearby after the hatching?
FlashV (4 years ago)
+MBARI Thanks for explaining. Or via plankton? could that be something?
Yes, we can only say that we saw her on the rock every time we went there. Low temperatures and inactivity help by keeping metabolic demand low. We saw no evidence of feeding during brooding. It is certainly possible that the mother feeds on the surrounding fauna or that in the course of protecting her eggs she feeds on would-be egg predators like Lithodid crabs. Resorption of unlaid eggs is known in other species, as is feeding on unfertilized or diseased eggs. Among deep-sea squids, species that brood their eggs rely on digestive gland lipid stores to meet their extended nutritional needs, but octopods are not known to store lipid as extensively. Regardless of how their nutritional needs are met, female G. boreopacifica spend a long time brooding.
Olivier Lopez Ch (4 years ago)
Man, that's sad :(
Chada Vanich (4 years ago)
Thank you for this one loveliest of all lovely videos about wildlife motherhood!
Apsis Motion Pictures (4 years ago)
Sounds just like the guy from homeworld.
remyposees (4 years ago)
impressive 4, 5 years protecting her eggs. We discover new things everyday. very interesting as usual. Thanks fors sharing
john Barry (4 years ago)
She is literally feeding them her "self"....her everything.  It's a crazy mixed up world.
Joe Macapinlac (4 years ago)
thats insane
Bindi Singh (4 years ago)
Jeff1244 (4 years ago)
It looks kinda cute
Kanuk K (4 years ago)
What a wonderful story!! Thanks I learned something new!!
na no (4 years ago)
That's amazing. I wonder if she eats anything while protecting her young. 
Gunlove (4 years ago)
These things are pretty neat, I use to go to Monterey Bay Aquarium every year with my grandparents was a fun experience! I live a few hours from the Aquarium.  
Potato Bunny (4 years ago)
Pause at 1:11 it looks like a smiley face.
Hien Nguyen (4 years ago)
53 months?!
Hien Nguyen (4 years ago)
Probably not.  But maybe she did!
boredguy52 (4 years ago)
Wow that's incredible. How does it go years without eating though? This is a very interesting story.
+Vincelixify She still breaths by sucking water in and along her gills to absorb oxygen from the seawater. Octopuses cannot digest particles or gain nutrition from that water sucked in through the siphon like filter feeding organisms such as mussels. Over time, she looked more and more unhealthy, so it is possible that she didn't actually fuel herself at all during that period and that the slow metabolism along is what kept her alive for so long. We can't say for sure what was actually going on physiologically because we just observed her and her eggs during that period.
FlashV (4 years ago)
+MBARI But it still breathes and that demands fuel right? But those resorped eggs are still part of her inert energy level. So thats not really productive. Ow she had those glands you mean she hamstered all that food before starting this? Maybe she filters like mussels?
Low temperatures and inactivity help by keeping metabolic demand low. We saw no evidence of feeding during brooding. It is certainly possible that the mother feeds on the surrounding fauna or that in the course of protecting her eggs she feeds on would-be egg predators like Lithodid crabs. Resorption of unlaid eggs is known in other species, as is feeding on unfertilized or diseased eggs. Among deep-sea squids, species that brood their eggs rely on digestive gland lipid stores to meet their extended nutritional needs, but octopods are not known to store lipid as extensively. Regardless of how their nutritional needs are met, female G. boreopacifica spend a long time brooding.
Jas Sandhar (4 years ago)
Is it sad that Octopus take better care of their children then some humans?
Kiekerz (8 months ago)
It's all relative. This particular species has a very long gestation period, but once an octopus' offspring hatch, they're on their own. No parental care after that.
Khashon Haselrig (9 months ago)
Slappy harsh bruh. So bitter after 3 years.
Slappy (9 months ago)
What's sad is that you don't know the difference between "then" and "than". Please try to get your suicide note right.
busybillyb33 (11 months ago)
Why would an octopus take care of humans?
Rawest Nation (1 year ago)
MohannadGoesRawr (4 years ago)
I lived with my parents for 20 years. They win. 
PTFOing (6 months ago)
Rawest Nation You know in the stoneage they lived in groups/tribes, right? Parents didn't send their kids away to work at a lawfirm in the big city... A human parent's will, in general loving mind, to raise a kid and protect througout it's entire life is just as strong as this octopus'. It's just very different.
Rawest Nation (1 year ago)
Humans are not the best parents these animals have predators and have to protect and is in a survival mode while having to take care of there young. Humans just live in houses all protection and food handed to them we don't hunt or live in the wild anymore so no human know whats a like to be a animal mother where you have to make heartbreaking choices. And don't say we live with are kids for more years cause we are forced by government to do that cause of financial needs. I am sure in the stone ages we left our young much earlier than 18 years.
Gabriel Mejía (1 year ago)
Can a basement be considered an egg?
lemons limes (3 years ago)
+ZionHillCalling be careful, this might be an alien.
ZionHillCalling (4 years ago)
Your parents kept you in an egg for 20 years?
burlapse (4 years ago)
Science learns new stuff every day, it's amazing!
Vessy N (4 years ago)
Mommy dearest! So sweet!
Matty Matt Matt (4 years ago)
Now thats pure dedication.
Venugopal Mangat (4 years ago)
Amazing... The wonders of nature!
Venugopal Mangat (4 years ago)
Amazing... The wonders of nature!
Venugopal Mangat (4 years ago)
Mother... A mother is God's best creation.
Venugopal Mangat (4 years ago)
Mother... A mother is God's best creation.
Cilly Honey (4 years ago)
Octopuses are the best mothers. What devotion.
sleazyZBeezy (4 years ago)
excellent story...absolutely terrible they nicknamed her the "octomom" when I saw this link from FaBo. I hate you so very much, reality TV.
Ruprick (4 years ago)
Excellent video, very well produced and narrated. Thanks!
MrMiamiswaggz305 (4 years ago)
Interesting stuff 
Kara (4 years ago)
how does she expect to protect her eggs if shes just a sac of dead flesh cupped to a rock???
Kara (4 years ago)
it did
Daniel Cepeda Music (4 years ago)
The way she did worked out pretty well I´d say...
huntingsthompson (4 years ago)
Anyone else getting a Cthulhu vibe? If you freeze the video at 0:40 the rocky outcropping even looks like Cthulhu's face...
CheezistChrist (4 years ago)
Truly incredible 
John White (4 years ago)
One word: moms :p
TheSmiler62 (4 years ago)
Fascinating.....Beautiful animals
KFLQY (4 years ago)
Now we know where those Krakens came from.. excessive brooding. Impressive!
Leichenmangel2 (4 years ago)
This is AMAZING. You guys rock so much.
Mark Tudtud Ambalong (4 years ago)
Netscape Navigator (4 years ago)
How does something relatively large and complex live 4 years without food is the better question.
Charlotte Wheeler (6 months ago)
Also the cold water would slow down life processes/metabolic action some
iPanda Cruz (1 year ago)
Parental Love
Bad Cattitude (1 year ago)
In 4 and a half years, im sure she can grab the occasional snack floating by. He said she wont *leave* to feed
noge (1 year ago)
I imagine it's the same principles that govern starvation degradation, and shallow water octopus species in how their bodies degrade from starvation and inactivity over time. Starving humans, staying hydrated, can last anywhere between 30 to 60 days, and much of that is determined by the internal resources available in your body (i.e. fat, muscle)
wakaka2waka (2 years ago)
+cometkite We didn't observe the death, nor did they observe a corpse. I think you're probably right but the death behaviour requires further confirmation.
holy crap, that's amazing!

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