Newborn Octopus and Stealthy Shrimp Battle in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
While diving at the "Octopus Garden" at Davidson Seamount in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, we witnessed a shrimp and newborn octopus engaged in intense claw-to-arm combat at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet).
In the lower left corner of the screen, a stealthy shrimp sneaks its way up to the stark-white clutch of octopus eggs and latches on to a newborn octopus “literally its first minute in the world.” For several minutes, the translucent cephalopod is seen duking it out with the shrimp, who is equally determined to make a meal out of the newborn.
Suddenly, the baby octopus breaks free from the shrimp and darts off into the big unknown, embracing the underwater world and other would-be predators. The shrimp begrudgingly makes its way back to the bottom of the clutch, just out of peripheral of the watchful mother’s eyes. Octopus mothers are one of the most dedicated in the animal kingdom. Each female octopus will lay just one clutch of eggs in her lifetime. While the hatchlings develop, she will forego food in order to clean and ventilate her eggs with oxygen while defending them against potential predators like the shrimp.
Visible as a mesmerizing shimmer, fluids seeping out of seafloor cracks reached a balmy 10.4 degrees Celsius (50.7 Fahrenheit) as our team measured temperature. Hydrothermal areas like this tend to have high temperatures and low oxygen levels that might seem to be a dangerous environment for newborn octopuses--but researchers think these conditions may speed up embryonic development. According to experts, it appears this clutch of eggs was healthy and soon-to-be ready for their first swim in the underwater world.
E/V Nautilus returned to this area after discovering more than a thousand deep-sea octopods in never-before-seen aggregations last year.
Learn more about this expedition.
The main objectives of this expedition are to revisit and further characterize the “octopus garden,” an unexplored, deep-water region of basaltic rocky reef that resides southeast of Davidson Seamount, within the borders of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). In October 2018, Nautilus and MBNMS discovered extensive aggregations of over 1,000 brooding female octopuses (Muusoctopus robustus). This genus has an unusual ‘upside-down’ brooding posture, with the underside of the arms exposed and the mantle toward the eggs, which are cemented to bare rock.