The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Octopus hatchlings cling to life



At the Alaska SeaLife Center on March 6, tiny octopus hatchlings known as paralarvae began to emerge from eggs laid over a year ago. However, their prospects are unknown as ASLC scientists and technicians attempt to simulate the delicate environment in which young giant Pacific octopuses thrive.


There is only one documented case of a giant Pacific octopus being successfully reared from egg to maturity in an aquarium setting and it happened in the mid 1980s. Giant Pacific octopuses are difficult to nurture due to the sensitive nature of the paralarvae after they emerge from their eggs and the nutritional demands that need to be met for proper growth. These challenges mean aquarists at the center have a steep road ahead in trying to raise the hatchlings to adulthood, but they are taking several steps to increase their chances of survival. Aquarium staff are harvesting both wild and cultured zooplankton to feed the paralarval octopuses and have also constructed special rearing tanks.

Meanwhile, mother octopus Lulu remains active, working to brood and guard the remainder of the unhatched eggs. LuLu has proven to be a very attentive and active mother, and her lifespan will end as the last of the eggs mature. “LuLu is not feeding at this time but continues to groom and fan the eggs as attentive octopus mothers do in this final reproductive phase of their lives,” said Richard Hocking, the center’s aquarium curator.


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