The giant octopus has deposited thousands of eggs, which look like small clusters of grapes, on the exhibit glass. In nature, the octopus will be very protective of these eggs for four to seven months, occasionally using its “siphon” to blow water on the eggs and keep them free of algae and debris, according to aquarist Adam Frantz.
It’s unlikely that these particular eggs are fertile or will produce baby octopuses, however. This particular octopus has been at the Aquarium for almost a year, and it’s unlikely that she would hold onto a sperm packet for that long, or that the sperm packet would remain viable. The urge to lay eggs comes just once, and usually marks the end of the octopus’s life. It’s all part of the natural cycle for these magical and intelligent animals.
The cuttlefish, which are relatives of the octopus, were observed in courtship behavior in recent weeks, wrapping their “arms” around one another, according to aquarist Aaron Spotswood. Now pea-sized, white eggs can be seen on the bottom of the exhibit. Though baby cuttlefish have been raised in the Aquarium environment, these particular eggs are not thought to be viable. (If they were, a cuttlefish embryo would be visible through the translucent egg cases.) As with the octopus, the female cuttlefish’s egg-laying likely marks the end of her life. But for now, these chameleons of the deep are still happily flashing their colors for Aquarium visitors.
(If you're looking for still MORE information about octopuses, cuttlefish and their kin, check out our friends at Cephalopodcast, your blogging and podcast home for all things cephalopod.)