The order Octopoda really is endlessly entertaining. Members create armor out of shells, use the "sneaky shoulder tap" technique to attack prey, and commit mass akrasia for no apparent reason. Now, in a new video released by the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, VA, we see the birth of a baby octopus. And surprise, surprise, octopi can do something weird at this stage of life too.
— Virginia Aquarium (@VAAquarium) February 7, 2018
The brief clip was posted to Twitter by the aquarium with a caption that read, in part, "Your daily squee has arrived." And squee you will when you see the way this Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus) hatches into a little weird ocean alien. As after it breaks free from its egg, it almost immediately changes color completely, going from an almost translucent white to a brownish purple.
The Virginia Aquarium was kind enough to answer people's questions about the bizarre display, noting that the octopus likely activated its chromatophores--cells that have a certain pigment in them, which allows them to reflect light--because it felt that it needed to activate its camouflage. Or it was simply frightened, and a stress response induced the chromatophores to activate.
Octopuses have chromatophores which allow them to camouflage themselves against their background. Likely, the stress of the hatch caused the immediate color change. After they settled down, they began working on using those chromatophores to blend in. (Super cute, btw.)
— Virginia Aquarium (@VAAquarium) February 8, 2018
Perhaps the most important aspect of this particular octopus--at least in a Finding Nemo sense--is that it was a member of a cluster of eggs that was accidentally kicked away by the mother from the other 100-200 eggs. Aquarists were able to recover them however, and hence, we have inky the blink-and-you'll-miss-it camo-pod.
In terms of future octopi births at the Virginia Aquarium, it's fair to expect at least a little more videos of octopi hatchings. The aquarium already has 20 babies birthed, but there are plenty more eggs that have yet to hatch. Maybe follow them on Twitter just in case.
What do you think about this baby octopus birth? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Virginia Aquarium