September 30, 2023

Deep sea: “Octopus Garden” is an incubator for octopuses

Since octopuses are cold-blooded, external conditions slow their metabolism and egg development, which is why many deep-sea octopuses sit on their eggs until they hatch for years. The colder the water, the longer the breeding season. Based on local permafrost conditions, biologists estimated the hatching time to be between five and eight years, but observation of different females, identified by external features such as scars, showed that the offspring here were ready to hatch in less than two years.

So the warm waters of the hydrothermal springs greatly accelerated the ripening process, the researchers suspected. This also reduces the risk of octopus mothers or their offspring being injured, eaten or sick. According to biologists, the sheer number of potential prey also attracts predators or scavengers: resources are scarce in the deep sea; Therefore such accumulations are a worthwhile target – especially since females die after successful incubation. In addition to octopuses, Barry and his colleagues note several other animal species that benefit from eggs, young octopuses and dead mothers.

“Vital hotspots like the deep sea nursery need to be protected,” Barry says. Climate change, fishing and mining threaten the deep sea. Protecting the unique environments in which deep-sea animals congregate to feed or reproduce is critical. Fortunately, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was expanded in 2008 to include the Davidson Seamount.