The Pacific Northwest is home to the largest species of octopus in the world, the Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO), which have been known to grow over 16 feet across and weigh more than 100 pounds! These elusive creatures are found only in the Pacific Ocean’s coastal waters and can be hard to see thanks to their ability to blend into their surroundings. They live relatively short lives, an average of about 4 years, and reproducing is their grand finale.
The Giant Pacific Octopus is one of the most dedicated mothers in the animal kingdom. The female will lay an estimated 18,000 to 100,000 eggs and settle in for approximately seven months to incubate them. During that time, the GPO mother will not leave her den, meaning she can’t hunt for food. She will guard her eggs by camouflaging the den with her body, all the while keeping predators away with her arms. She will also carefully create a gentle, continuous current to keep the eggs aerated. At the end of the incubation period, the exhausted GPO parent will waft the newly hatched babies from the den, and she will usually die soon after.
Many Pacific Northwest divers have been fortunate enough to witness this incredible process! In this screen shot taken from a video @seainggreen captured of a GPO hatch, you can see the small, recently hatched octopus to the left below mom's arm. See the rest of the video below!