VIDEO: Watch the ‘real Octo-Mom’ – a Giant Pacific Octopus at Three Tree Point


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YouTuber/Diver/Photographer Drew Collins made a fantastic video underwater off Burien’s Three Tree Point recently, showing a mother Octopus – the “real Octo-Mom” – off the north beach, and her waning days of tending her ~70,000 eggs:

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Here’s more from Drew’s blog (read the entire entry as a PDF here):

On an early November day, while enjoying a couple of wonderful dives in at Possession Point in Puget Sound, my dive buddy Jenn Vanderhoof mentioned that she had heard about a female Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) on eggs at Three Tree Point in Burien. I was immediately intrigued. Photographing a female GPO guarding eggs in her den has been a goal of mine for a long time. After discussing the possiblity of a female GPO on eggs with Jeff Christiansen (the “best local Three Tree Point expert in the northwest”), I made plans to head down there and find her. Within days, my good friend and dive buddy, Myra Wisotzky and I were in search of her and her eggs.

Why am I so intrigued by this? The GPO is the largest Octopus in the world, growing in the space of just a couple of years to well over 80 pounds and more than 16 feet in length. Their suckers can appear as large as a small grapefruit. To get to this size so quickly the average GPO eats a lot. A typical GPO eats enough to sustain an almost 1% per day growth rate.

The life span of a GPO is short. They reach sexual maturity by about two years of age and usually live less than four years. GPOs are terminal breeders. This means once they mate, within a short time the male dies. The female will die after the brooding period, which can be more than seven months. After the female mates she finds a suitable den, lays and fertilizes her eggs and begins the brooding period. Laying her eggs can take up to a month. She carefully attaches them to the ceiling of the den, allowing them to hang down like grapes on a vine. Placing them in this way she is able to aerate, and keep the eggs clean, by using her siphon to blow water over them.

A significant part of my original goal was to see and record a mass hatching. I was dissapointed that this did not happen. However, I was witness to a truly amazing event. It was a fascinating priviledge to be witness to the two most dramatic life cycle stages for one female GPO within one condensed period of time in one very small portion of one tire reef 90 feet underwater. The knowledge gained, contacts made, skills developed will prove useful and better prepare me for the next opportunity, which I am searching for right now!

(Thanks to Ethan Janson for the tip!)

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Comments

7 Responses to “VIDEO: Watch the ‘real Octo-Mom’ – a Giant Pacific Octopus at Three Tree Point”
  1. Thanks for sharing this awesome story. You did a wonderful job of putting this story together.

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  2. Rob Meston says:

    Very cool. Great video and as a Lifer on Puget Sound, it’s cool to see what’s under us when we’re on the water. Impressed. I hope you enter this in some contest because it it that good.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Rob Meston

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  3. Bill says:

    How about some iOS friendly video? :)

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  4. Name (required) says:

    Yummy! Now I know where to go catch octopus for dinner.

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    • Sybil Davis says:

      This was so interesting, and well done. I did wonder how intrusive you were though, with your lights and your frequent visits. I hope it didn’t bother the mom too much. Makes me want to redouble my efforts to keep the waters clean!

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  5. pamela says:

    The lights are not a bother to the octopus. Three tree point is an awesome place to dive. Most of the fish are very used to the divers.

    Females die after giving birth so in no way was this intrusive.

    It has to be one of the most amazing videos of Pacific NW diving.

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  6. Raye says:

    Lovely! So, out of about 68,000 eggs laid, about 30,000 survive and just one or two make it to maturity. All the more reason NOT to eat octopus, but to let these marvelous and surprisingly intelligent creatures live a full life.

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