Octopus eggs hatch at aquarium

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Nearly 300 giant Pacific octopus eggs hatched earlier this week at an aquarium in Canada.

The eggs were laid by an Giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)  named C.C at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre seven months ago and mark the start of a tense few months for the aquarium.

Dr. Dennis Thoney, director of animal operations at the Vancouver Aquarium told the press: "Although it is not unusual for octopus eggs to hatch in aquariums, very few hatchings have ever survived. The chances of survival are very low because Giant Pacific octopuses have a 7-10 month long pelagic larval stage. To further our knowledge of octopus reproduction, we will attempt to feed and maintain some the larvae for as long as possible."

But Thoney said it's very unlikely the baby octopuses will survive. "They've only ever been raised through this stage once or twice, ever. It's very, very difficult, so the chances of it happening is nil."

Unfortunately, this is also not good news for the display where the parents live either. This species typically lives 3-5 years and mating usually occurs towards the end of adult life. Females lay anything from 20,000- 75,000 eggs which they tend for up to seven months, during which time they do not eat. Once the eggs hatch the females usually die and C.C.'s male partner, Clove, died just over two months after she mated with him. It is expected that C.C. will also die naturally in the coming weeks now that egg incubation is completed.

"Opportunities to observe Giant Pacific octopus mating are rare and we have already been extremely lucky to witness it several times here at the Vancouver Aquarium," said Thoney.

"There is much to learn about octopuses and we hope to learn more as we attempt to raise the newly hatched octopus larvae."

Enteroctopus dofleini is the largest species of octopus in the world. Typically they grow to around 45kg but individuals as large as 70kg and 7.5m have been recorded with two records topping 136kg and 182kg. The larvae usually measure just 6mm when first hatched.

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