Hundreds of Purple Octopus Moms Cling to Undersea Volcano

Miles beneath the ocean’s surface, in the darkened waters along a rocky seafloor, along the Dorado Outcrop, located about 155 miles (250 kilometers) west of Costa Rica at a depth of 9,842 feet (3,000 meters), a submersible vehicle unexpectedly encountered a bizarre spectacle: hundreds of small, purple octopuses, many of them mothers protecting clusters of eggs, clinging to the hardened lava from an undersea volcano.

The octopuses, which sport enormous eyes in comparison to their dinner plate-size bodies, were identified as a new species in the genus Muuscoctopus. During the dives, the researchers collected data on water temperature flowing from the volcano and evaluated the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. They also observed 606 octopuses.

But what were so many octopuses doing in that location? It’s highly unlikely that they were drawn to the area because it was a desirable place to lay eggs, the scientists said. Though prior research has shown that elevated water temperatures can speed up egg development, the heat also increases octopuses’ metabolic rate, which makes them need more oxygen. And the water seeping from cracks in the rocky outcrop carried just half as much oxygen as the water in the surrounding areas.

Whatever the reason, the octopus nursery seems doomed. The embryos were not developing due to lack of oxygen and many of the mothers were already dying.

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Octopuses crawl to shore en masse

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More than two dozen octopuses were spotted slogging along a shoreline in West Wales, worrying beachgoers, who spent some time picking up the critters and plopping them back into the ocean.

It is uncertain why the octopuses were engaged in what has been described by scientists as “odd” behaviour. There could be several reasons that they moved on to the beach, including spawning, weather and water temperatures. As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behavior coincides with the two areas hit by the two recent low-pressure depressions and associated storms of Ophelia and Brian, it could be supposed that these have affected them. Or it could simply be injuries sustained by the rough weather itself or there could be a sensitivity to a change in atmospheric pressure.

Octlantis – Octopus Community off Australia

n the briny waters of Jervis Bay on Australia’s east coast, where three rocky outcrops jut out from piles of broken scallop shells, beer bottles and lead fishing lures, a clutch of gambol among a warren of nearly two dozen dens..

The bustling community belies conventionally held notions of the cephalopods, once thought to be solitary and asocial. Scientists have discovered the normally gloomy and reclusive octopuses living at high densities in Jervis Bay, Australia, where they are interacting with one another, signaling, mating and throwing one another out of their dens.

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Tentacle Dominance

Human activities that have caused ocean temperatures to rise and more fish from the sea to wind up on dinner tables have also given octopuses and similar creatures a tentacle up in the oceanic food chain.

Researchers from Australia’s University of Adelaide found that the new maritime realm has benefited cephalopods because the disappearing fish result in reduced numbers of predators and competitors for food.

Warmer oceans may also be accelerating the life cycles of the tentacled creatures, making it easier for them to adapt to a changing environment, as long as waters don’t warm beyond their tolerance.