OCTOPUS – Live to Mate
Octopus take about four years before they’re ready to mate and once the mating and child care is finished, well, so are they. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
We’re at the National Zoo in Washington DC next to a glass tank which is home to a Pacific Giant Octopus. These animals live in very cold salt water and can weigh up to a hundred pounds. For such a large and relatively intelligent animal, it’s unusual that octopus would lead such short lives. But, as it turns out, they live just long enough to complete one of nature’s most important tasks.
“Their lifespan is dominated by sexual maturity.”
Tamie Gray is a Museum Specialist at the National Zoo.
“So a female, when she lays her eggs, she goes into a cave, she lays about eighty thousand eggs up in this cave and she stays with them for about six months taking care of them until they hatch out and at that time she starves herself to death. So when she comes out of the cave after all eighty thousand babies have come pouring out of this cave, then she comes out and she dies.”
Now if it seems to you that the female suffers from empty nest syndrome, consider that her partner won’t even last as long as she does. The male octopus apparently loses his appetite right after he mates.
“But the male, once he mates, they only mate once, they’re pretty much done. And he has behind his eye there, there’s some sort of gland that basically shuts off so that he stops eating.”
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Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.