Deep under the sea, scientists have discovered thousands of female octopuses brooding eggs.

National Geographic team announced last week, in what appears to be the world’s largest, that a deep-sea octopus nursery had been discovered.

Scientists piloting a remote-operated submersible noticed something that has never been seen before. Two miles below the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Monterey in California, hundreds of octopuses were found huddled at the base of an underwater mountain. It is extremely rare to find such a large number of octopuses together. They have typically been thought of as solitary or isolate creatures.

The lead scientist, Chad King, said:

“We went down the eastern flank of this small hill, and that’s when—boom—we just started seeing pockets of dozens here, dozens there, dozens everywhere.”

The species, Muusoctopus robustus, numbering an estimated 1000 in total, were nestled among the rocks. The octopuses appear to be turned inside out, wrapping their bodies in a protective ball around their eggs. For this species, it is common for the females to brood, or protect their growing young.

While the footage retrieved from the discovery displays an interesting glimpse into the species life, it also opens up questions about their habitat and character. For one, it is unsure whether the shimmer from the rocky outcrop is heat, and whether it provides any benefits or protection to the animal.  The head scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Bruce Robison, states that the geologists who study this region say the underwater mountain has been inactive for millions of years.

“Thus it’s very unlikely that there is any heat involved”.

The scientists hope to return to the site soon. Further observations and sampling will help determine more accurately the reason and environment that these octopuses are breeding in.

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