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20,000 Octopuses Gather in a Real-Life Octopus Garden

Have you heard of the real-life Octopus Garden off the coast of central California? Scientists have known about this site, where they documented more than 6,000 octopuses living in a relatively small section of the vast “garden,” since 2018. But if you’ve not yet learned about this largest-known aggregation of octopuses in the world, today’s your day.

Researchers from NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Nautilus Live stumbled across thousands of nesting octopuses nearly two miles beneath the surface of the ocean in 2018. For the next three years, scientists from MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) studied these octopus moms, their eggs, and the environment surrounding the Octopus Garden. The scientists (and the world) wanted to know: Why do these animals cluster together at this site?

Last summer, MBARI published research explaining that pearl octopuses (Muusoctopus robustus) migrate to the Octopus Garden to mate and nest. MBARI’s Seafloor Mapping Lab documented more than 6,000 octopuses in a portion of the site, but scientists say they expect there may be 20,000 or more at this nursery, making it the “largest known aggregation of octopus on the planet.”

This Octopus Garden is one of a several deep-sea octopus nurseries known to the scientific community. The Octopus Garden at Davidson Seamount off the coast of California benefits from warm, nutrient-rich water from deep-sea thermal springs. MBARI’s research suggests this thermal-spring water “accelerates the development of octopus eggs.”

In other words, it’s the perfect place for octopus nests. And so the octopuses come by the thousands. It’s wild to see.

Watch MBARI’s footage of the real-life octopus garden here:

Did you know about this? What other incredible things are out there in the deep sea?

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