Tuesday, July 5, 2011

50,000 Happy Birthdays

Child-free & fancy-free
Photo by Laurie Kormos
© California Academy of Sciences
The YouTube video called "50,000 Happy Birthdays" is getting a lot of attention these days. The footage begins with a view of the Seattle skyline, and then divers go down into Cove Two to film a mama octopus guarding her eggs--all 50,000 of them.

And if you think that woman who had octuplets went through a lot, you should consider the situation of the mollusk kind.

After laying those 50,000+ eggs, she uses her tentacles to braid them into garlands that she hangs from the ceiling of a small cave or protected space. She tends them continuously for the next five or six months, blowing air on them with her siphon and fending off predators. She usually takes no nourishment during this time and dies shortly after the young hatch--thousands and thousands of teeny tiny little octopuses--and leave her behind.

A few (very few, perhaps only two0 will grow into adults, which generally means to about 100 pounds with a sixteen-foot armspread. The largest recorded weighed 600 pounds, with a thirty-one-foot armspread.

But when you watch the video, it's difficult to imagine those itty bitties managing to negotiate the fearful dangers of the Pacific long enough to become octomoms and octodads.


  1. Just when I'm thinking the video is getting tedious, they break out the beer and sing to the babies.  Pretty cool! 

  2. It coulda used some editing. These people are REALLY into the baby octopuses! (And that ending is sweet.)

  3. And you thought getting published was tough. Try growing to adulthood as an octopus!

  4. Your post on the octopus and its young is great. And speaking of sibling rivalry, these kids really do engage. Photo and video are lovely.  Alice