Vigilant Octomom

A deep-sea octopus protecting her eggs
© 2007 MBARI

Talk about an investment! This octopus mom protected her brood of about 160 eggs for 4.5 years for the longest ever recorded brooding time of any animal. She was first observed by scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) when they did a routine survey of deep-sea animals off the California coast in May 2007. Each time the scientists surveyed the site over the next four and a half years (a total of 18 times), they observed the same female octopus sitting over her brood. They were able to determine it was the same octopus due to her distinctive scarring, and they measured the eggs to ensure they were also the same. The extremely long brooding time, during which the mom never leaves the eggs (even to eat), helps to ensure that the young octopuses get enough oxygen and aren't eaten by predators. 

Tags: Reproduction