David Manly is a freelance journalist who will blog about a wide range of topics that all fall under the umbrella of zoology and ecology. While his expertise lies with reptiles and amphibians, he has a wide array of knowledge and interest in all animal species - from the sponge to the great ape. He hopes you will enjoy his blog, as he plans to make it both entertaining and enjoyable (as well as fill it with interesting facts, tidbits, photos and videos).
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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Today, the second Sunday on May, is Mother’s Day. Right now, as you are reading this, families all over the world are celebrating this holiday in a multitude of ways. Kids that are all grown up may be celebrating with a dinner or breakfast, while new mothers might just be treated to a breakfast in bed (where it Is the thought that counts, not the actual food).
We owe our mother’s a lot of thanks, whether they are our biological ones or not. They raised us, cared for us, nurtured our growth and supported us throughout our lives. One day of thanks is not that hard to do, is it?
(That is not to say Father’s Day isn’t just as important, but that’s a post for the future).
My mom has been a constant source of motivation and support, considering the stories she and my father tell about my twin brother and I as kids. They usually will speak in a hushed tone, and almost marvel at the fact that they actually survived.
But, with all that our respective parents have done, there is one mother that does a lot more – The Pacific Giant Octopus.
Like most octopuses (the accepted plural form, along with octopi and octopodes … see the video here for the explanation why), the Pacific Giant Octopus is a solitary creature that spends most of its life eating, growing, and just being amazing. The only time members are seen together, is for that lovely biological urge of mating.
Once the female mates with a male, she nurtures the eggs inside her for a number of months. Then, once ready, she finds a suitable cave and ventures inside. That is the last time she will ever venture out into the open ocean again.
The female will then barricade the opening of the cave with rocks, before expelling her eggs, one by one, into long strands and anchoring them to the cave ceiling. Considering each female may posses over 100,000 eggs, the process takes weeks. And as the saying goes, “a mother’s work is never done.”
Following that, the female octopus then painstakingly uses her arms over the strands of eggs, keeping them clean form parasites and algae. In addition, she also gently aerates the eggs by softly blowing water onto the strands using her siphon, providing them with life-giving oxygen.
This process takes months, and some cases have been reported of over half a year. And throughout this time, she is concentrated on the job at hand: To clean, nurture and protect her eggs. She does not eat from the moment she enters the cave, and slowly wastes away.
When the young octopuses emerge from their eggs, their mother uses her siphon to gently urge them into the open ocean to begin their lives. While only a small handful may survive to sexual maturity, the mother did all that she could.
Her mission complete, she passes away from starvation.
The video below is taken from BBC's series Life, narrated by David Attenborough, who showcases the life (and subsequent death) of the giant pacific octopus with amazing images. Please do check out the video below, starting at 2:55, as it is incredible.
So, as much as your mother has done (or will do) for you, be glad that you had the chance to know her at all, and give thanks.
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What a wonderful post devoted to mothers. I have heard of devotion to your young, but this octopi takes it to a whole new level.
This post was well written, well thought out and really made me think about my mom and the things she has done for me (both big and small).
Totally amazing video. How do they get that footage?
I wonder how they next generation of mothers know how to bring new babies into the world without any instruction? Amazing.