One of my guilty pleasures is my RSS subscription to Zooborns, a blog all about baby animals. When I check Google Reader, I read sensible, serious blog posts about science until I finally cave and look at the cuteness.
Amongst the treasure trove of nursing giraffes and clinging baby apes was a clutch of baby octopuses! Perhaps clutch isn’t the right word… a handful? An armful! An armful of baby octopuses. Check it out.
Conception occurs when a male octopus inserts a modified sperm-containing arm into the female’s oviduct, though sometimes he removes his arm and she stores it in her mantel for later. Each egg, as it is laid, contains a long thread which the octopus uses to hold them all together like a bunch of grapes. A thoughtful mother, she protects them from predators and blows water currents across them for cleaning.
Biologist Richard Ross caught the hatching of the eggs on video, and described it as a waterfall flowing upwards towards the surface.
It’s an exciting event, but unfortunately a mother octopus stops eating to care for the eggs and dies which is a total bummer. With millions of tiny planktonic octopus young born, some should survive, though they are hard to feed and raise.
On a lighter note, Zooborns recently posted pictures of a Snow Leopard cub born in Chattanooga Zoo. Snow Leopards happen to be my favourite animal and the cub is so exceedingly cute I might die. A less attractive addition in Australia is the first palm cockatoo zoo bred in 40 years which has passed through the awkward teenage stage and is starting to fly.
Damn I want to work at a zoo.