Weird Nature

What Octopus Eggs Look Like When They're Hatching Is Straight Out Of A Sci-Fi Movie 

Eric Luis
Updated June 4, 2020 6.6k views 11 items

How do octopuses reproduce? If you think about it, you'll realize that it's actually kind of strange. They aren't mammals, so they don't give birth like whales. You may be surprised to know that octopuses actually lay eggs. What does it look like when an octopus gives birth? Find out here! Discover just how weird looking octopus eggs are, and how fascinating it is to watch them hatch. 

Octopus eggs hatching is a beautifully bizarre process that almost looks otherworldly. Perhaps that's because octopus reproduction takes place in some of the most mysterious habitats on earth. Octopus facts reveal that male octopuses use a special arm for reproduction. They insert this arm into a female's oviduct, and in some species, the male loses the arm, which the female keeps until she lays eggs. 

The process of laying eggs, caring for them, and their eventual hatching is one of the most labor and time intensive feats in the animal world. These brilliant and devoted cephalopod mothers and their young deserve some credit for their hard work. Check out details about octopus reproduction below to see some awesome and ethereal images of the mysteries of the ocean. 

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Mothers Have To Find The Right Spot To Lay Their Brood

If able to reproduce, looking out for her eggs will be the last act of a female octopus's life, and they dedicate themselves to that duty. The process begins with the selection of a brooding den, a special place in which she can lay her eggs without being disturbed by potential threats.

Some octopuses like to pile rocks at the entrance of their dens to keep out nosy bottom dwellers like crabs. The den is usually tucked away in a hidden alcove or cave, and the mother octopus will typically spend the remainder of her life in the den with her eggs.

One Octopus's 53-Month Brooding Period Is A Record In The Animal Kingdom
One Octopus's 53-Month B... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list What Octopus Eggs Look Like When They're Hatching Is Straight Out Of A Sci-Fi Movie
Photo: NOAA/MBARI/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Octopus mothers sacrifice more for their children than potentially any other mother in the world, but one species takes motherly devotion to a whole new level. A research team made a remarkable discovery after documenting a single octopus of the species Graneledone boreopacifica. They witnessed first hand the longest brooding or gestation period of any animal. Over four years, researchers observed the octopus staying in the same spot and caring for her eggs. She stayed with the eggs for 53 months until they hatched, but the scientists weren't present for the actual hatching. 

Cold Temperatures Play A Role In Helping Mothers Survive Without Food For Long Periods Of Time As They Protect Their Eggs

In the case of Graneledone boreopacifica, such a long brooding period seems nearly impossible. How can any creature survive for 53 months without eating so much as a stray shrimp?

Scientists believe that her low energy lifestyle allowed her to conserve her strength and prolong her survival time just long enough to see her babies born. Another factor is the temperature of the water. The observed octopus had nested in near freezing waters in the deep sea, and freezing temperatures plays a role in preserving tissue and extending a creature's lifespan.

Some Octopuses Can Lay 100,000 Eggs At A Time

Octopuses produce a ton of babies, but they kind of have to. Of the thousands of eggs laid, only an average of two will survive into adulthood. That's just enough to keep the species healthy, but it's not even one percent of the total eggs hatched. One species, the giant Pacific octopus, lays somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 eggs in their lifetime.