Female octopuses have the saddest life spans
July 30, 2014 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I already knew this, but thank you for the depressing reminder. I love octopuses so much.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:18 PM on July 30, 2014

Fifty-three MONTHS of gestation??????????????
posted by harrietthespy at 3:22 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Because I love Mother Octopus and want her to live forever?
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:25 PM on July 30, 2014 [17 favorites]

I feel like this gives me a new weapon against my mother's "I carried you for 9 months!" guilt trip.
posted by TwoStride at 3:32 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

I got the impression she wouldn't eat because she was busy watching eggs, but senescence makes both genders of octopus not eat. Then the males go play in traffic.

This is probably less sad if you're an octopus.
posted by squinty at 3:41 PM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]

Fifty-three MONTHS of gestation??????????????

Wait, they only live for 4 or 5 years. Is 90% a female octopus's life really spent gestating?
posted by Copronymus at 3:57 PM on July 30, 2014

Considering they only live 3-5 years, 53 months is pretty much a life sentence.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:58 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking of it as a life mission.
posted by doteatop at 4:02 PM on July 30, 2014

"Fifty-three MONTHS of gestation??????????????"

It's an octopode, not a mammal.


The female produces a good 200,000 eggs on average.

"Octopodes have eight tentacle-shaped legs, and need four of them to move. While a tentacle lacks fingers, two tentacles are a rough equivalent of a human's arm where item manipulation is concerned - including wielding two-handed weapons with four. They can use no armour other than loose hats, but can handle shields just fine. Another peculiarity they have is the ability to wear eight rings, one on each tentacle."

Oh wait, that's http://crawl.chaosforge.org/Octopode

I'm pretty sure that my birth marked the beginning of the end for my mom too. She covered me and fed me and defended me from predators, never leaving. For a while anyway. Mom has eaten since I've been born though. [Hi Mom]

Given the way we are eating our way down the food chain an anthropomorphic lens is better for the survival of charimatic creatures but don't think you are a Janist because "oh look, that's so sad".
posted by vapidave at 4:19 PM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]

For more octopodian goodness, you can follow Katherine Harmon Courage's Octopus Chronicles over on Scientific American.
posted by drlith at 4:26 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Because I love Mother Octopus and want her to live forever?

Spent some time in Innsmouth?
posted by benzenedream at 6:27 PM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

I wonder what the survival rate is for those 200,000 eggs.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:32 PM on July 30, 2014

Well, everything dies. But a handful of those eggs make it to adulthood. Let's be generous (because I love them so) and say one in 20,000?
Thanks for this, ChuraChura.
posted by Busithoth at 7:37 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Everything dies, eh? Thanks for the words of wisdom.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:38 PM on July 30, 2014

Anyway, I prefer hard facts rather than slightly smarmy sermons, so...

Blanchard said that so far, she has taken several bucketfuls--probably between 5,000 and 10,000 of the small creatures--and returned them to the ocean. She expects the final count to be anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000. But it has been estimated that in the open sea among myriad predators, the survival rate of baby octopuses is less than 1%.

"Survival" in this context means hatching and reaching sexual maturity (that is, the ability to reproduce and continue the species).

Most of these 200,000 hatchlings are going to be food for the fishes.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2014

Sorry, I meant all octupuses die tragically young (in my opinion). And it makes me touchy.
posted by Busithoth at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2014

I bet octopus religion would be really weird to us
posted by clockzero at 7:54 PM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]

Non-octopus religion is pretty weird to me.

Thanks for the post - I like octopuses.
posted by gingerest at 8:18 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

This only strengthens my love for these creatures. First, they were brilliant, relatable beings. Now they're honorable to boot. We could learn a few things from the noble octopus.
posted by Chutzler at 8:40 PM on July 30, 2014

I learned about this not that long ago, when we were at a zoo admiring an octopus in an oddly overlooked corner of the otherwise busy place, and one of the staff came up and told us she (the octopus) had laid her eggs and only had a short time left to live. I like to think, at least, that she looked content. RIP, Pandora.

Why nobody has made a touching and/or traumatizing children's book based on octopus moms is beyond me ...
posted by DingoMutt at 8:43 PM on July 30, 2014

Yay, octopus. And *sob* octopus.
posted by Lexica at 9:28 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Look, the Gods cursed the octopus with a short life span so they don't rise up and take their rightful place as lords of the earth.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 PM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]

The Whelk is right. The octopus would eat you whole if it could, and it's only fair that we eat it first to ensure our rightful place in the hierarchy of dominion. Actually I had it at a korean BBQ place recently and thought "not tasty enough, too smart too, pass that short-rib yo"
posted by aydeejones at 11:12 PM on July 30, 2014

Too Smart Too incidentally is the name of an Octopus rapper

They call me Too Smart Too
Don't try ta eat me fool
Step into my pool and I'll use you like a tool
Twist you all around,
dunk you in the water
Toying like I found
A punk ass to be slaughtered

I'll bite you with my beak
You'll scream because you're weak
Soon enough I'll let you go
And then I'll slap your cheek

posted by aydeejones at 11:16 PM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]

Couldn't agree more with the Whelk. If octopodes didn't have such short lives, I can only imagine what the world would look like.

The naked bipedal ape is extinct in the wild, researchers say. For years, terrestrial biologists have warned that the highly intelligent amniotes were severely threatened by habitat loss and industrial pollution.

The adaptable ambulators were once common across much of the world's landmasses, even found on the abyssal plains of continental interiors. Their numbers were drastically reduced from the start of the industrial revolution until international treaties on the harvesting of large, slowly reproducing tetrapods were put in place to prevent stocks from collapsing.

Later, their numbers were further reduced by widespread capture. Their reputation for intelligence and ability to be trained made them attractive purchases for performing animals in terraria and also for draft animals to gather fodder for crab farms. The animal's long lifecycle and unpredictable nature defied predictions that they would be the first terrestrial animal to be domesticated, and once automation became practical, use of the apes as draft animals dwindled rapidly.

Ironically, it was these very same automated replacements that ecologists now blame for the pollution and habitat destruction that has been the biggest factor in the naked ape's recent precipitous decline.

In addition to conservationists' calls to preserve the apes, lately their presence in terraria has also come under fire as inoctopodable due to their nature as intelligent and social creatures poorly suited to the confines of small concrete and plexiglass enclosures. Unfortunately, these conditions will have to suffice for the few remaining naked bipedal apes. However, several terraria have active breeding programs, and scientists are cautiously optimistic that in time they could be reintroduced in the wild.

posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:56 PM on July 30, 2014 [16 favorites]

Chutzler: This only strengthens my love for these creatures. First, they were brilliant, relatable beings. Now they're honorable to boot.

And there are definitely stakes. All around better than Shakespeare. (Hash tag ThisOctopusLife)
posted by clawsoon at 5:15 AM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry ChuraChura, my comment was a bit impulsive.

I don't each much meat and it's been decades since I've eaten octopus if that's any consolation
posted by vapidave at 6:22 PM on July 31, 2014

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