September 7, 2015: Giant Pacific Octopus

September 7, 2015: Giant Pacific Octopus

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Sometimes I wish I could write a whole book (ok, maybe just an essay) about the sea creature I’m featuring for the week, and this is one of those times. There are so many more cool facts about the Giant Pacific Octopus than can fit in the one-page newsletter you’re getting today.

For instance, its entire reproductive cycle is fascinating: imagine only mating once in your lifetime- and then dying shortly thereafter as a result. The GPO lives a brief and wondrous life, then meets a harsh end: After mating just once, the male dies immediately. The female stays alive to fertilize her eggs- an undertaking she can begin when she chooses, and may wait several months to initiate. She then attaches all the fertilized eggs to the walls and roof of her cave with tiny, thin strings and watches over them until they hatch. The process can take 5-7 months, during which time she doesn’t move or eat at all. After the eggs hatch, she is too weak to continue living, and she dies. 

On a happier note, the Giant Pacific Octopus can inject venom into its prey to kill it before tearing it apart with its beak! But perhaps the most astounding aspect of the GPO’s biology, for me, is its individualism, intelligence and curiosity.

In spite of all that we know about the GPO, we don’t actually know much about its global population or conservation status, though scientists are working on gathering more info.

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P.S. Totally obsessed with Octopuses, as I am? I’ve just heard about a cool book by naturalist Sy Montgomery called The Soul of an Octopus that I definitely want to check out. You can listen to a brief discussion about it from Radio New Zealand here to find out more. If you get a chance to read it before I do, let me know what you think!

image credits: in newsletter: Left:; Right:; Bottom:; in this post: Featured Image:

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