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Octopus guarded eggs: Female octopus spends 4.5 years guarding eggs in deep sea

An octopus guarded her eggs for 4.5 years, foregoing food for herself according to researchers. A report by The Christian Science Monitor detailed what scientists uncovered in the deep Pacific blue. The deep sea dwelling Graneledone boreopacifica was monitored off the coast of California by a remote-controlled submarine. It was reported that 4.5 years is the "longest known egg-brooding period for any animal."

"They tracked one female, recognizable by its distinctive scars, that clung to a vertical rock face near the floor of a canyon about 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) under the surface, keeping the roughly 160 translucent eggs free of debris and silt and chasing off predators."

The female octopus guarded her eggs, never leaving them for even a second. Bruce Robison, a deep sea ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing,California, said that this species of octopus is very maternal. Watching her give up her day-to-day life of searching for food and taking part in other deep sea activities proves that she cared more about her eggs than herself. In fact, researchers say that her skin changed color and she lost significant weight over a 53 month period of time.

"It's extraordinary. It's amazing. We're still astonished ourselves by what we saw. She was protecting her eggs from predators, and they are abundant. There are fish and crabs and all sorts of critters that would love to get in there and eat those eggs. So she was pushing them away when they approached her."

According to Travelers Today, the octopus guarded her eggs by keeping her eight arms curled over them. She would occasionally reach out and smack away a feisty crustacean that came too close. While it is unknown how many of the babies actually survived, the eggs did eventually hatch. Researchers say they saw more than half a dozen baby octopus swimming nearby. Due to deep sea living circumstances, many octopus only live a few years -- but this one managed to spend her time ensuring that her babies would be safe. An average lifespan for a Graneledone boreopacifica is 16 to 18 years. It is believed that the females spend about a quarter of that time brooding.