Scientists Find a Rare 'Octopus Nursery'

Site off Costa Rica is only the third such site known to exist (by humans)
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Scientists Find a Rare 'Octopus Nursery'
A screen shot of the octopus nursery.   (YouTube/Schmidt Ocean Institute)

Researchers exploring the ocean floor off the coast of Costa Rica discovered an incredibly rare thing: an octopus nursery. The deep-sea area is exactly what it sounds like—a place where brooding octopuses gather to hatch their eggs, reports NPR. The discovery brings the number of known octopus nurseries in the world to a grand total of three, reports the Miami Herald. Two are off Costa Rica and the other is off the coast of Monterey, California. Researchers using a remotely operated vehicle actually saw hatchlings emerge during the expedition.

"The mission control room erupted in squeals of amazement—people pointing their fingers at the screens excitedly, clapping, hugging—when we witnessed live baby octopuses on the seafloor," expedition co-leader Beth Orcutt of the Maine-based Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences tells Scientific American. Another bonus: The team says it appears to have discovered a new species of octopus, one without an ink sac in the Muusoctopus family, per a news release.

The expedition also confirmed that a previously explored site nearby called the Dorado Outcrop is indeed an octopus nursery, too. (It is one of the three known to exist.) Scientists had previously seen brooding octopuses there but no developing embryos, leading them to theorize that conditions weren't right for hatchlings, per USA Today. This research trip proved the eggs hatch just fine, despite the presence of hydrothermal vents. All of which "proves there is still so much to learn about our ocean," said Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which funded the research. (More discoveries stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.