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