Thursday, April 14, 2005

Baby Octopi for Aurora

Baby Octopus Posted by Hello
Baby Octopus

Aurora, a giant pacific octopus, has - as of Wedneday - nine new babies. We Pick up the story from Yahoo :

Aurora began her long march toward motherhood last May when she was introduced to J-1, a long-in-the-tentacle bachelor. To the delight of aquarists, the two hit it off, flashing colors and retreating to a dark corner of the center's "Denizens of the Deep" display.

A month later, Aurora laid tens of thousands of eggs. Her sense of mothering was strong, despite the fact that her eggs didn't appear to develop and aquarists eventually believed they were sterile.

Day in and day out, she sucked in water through her mantle and sent waves of cleansing water over the eggs. She defended them against hungry sea cucumbers and starfish.

She continued to tend her eggs even after J-1, who had been removed from her tank for crankiness, died of old age in September.

Aurora didn't even give up in December when aquarists — convinced the eggs weren't fertile — began draining her 3,600-gallon tank. As the water went down and she was going down with it, she sprayed her eggs, now exposed and drying on a rock.

Sharp-eyed intern Meghan Kokal saved the day. Some eggs were placed in her palm and she gave them a close look, asking about the two red dots. The dots turned out to be developing eyes.

Unfortunately, Mom may not make it:

Aurora's fate, though, is sealed. Giant Pacific females usually die about the same time as their eggs hatch, mostly because they stop eating for months and spend their energy defending their eggs.

Aurora, who is probably about 4, was roughly the size of a grapefruit when she was found living inside an old tire in front of the SeaLife Center.

"This kind of means the end of her life," DeCastro said.

Aurora, now much smaller than the 37 pounds she weighed when she was involved with J-1, may last a bit longer. Aquarists have been hand-feeding her crab, squid, herring and fish.

If anything, she appears invigorated, DeCastro said.

"She is still tending the eggs," he said.