After An Octopus Laid Dozens Of Tiny Eggs, A Diver Caught The Moment They Began To Burst

Under the waves one day, keen-eyed diver Pang Quong spotted an octopus protecting dozens of tiny eggs. The sea life enthusiast was so enchanted that he returned to the spot again and again. And eventually his dedication paid off when on one visit he noticed that the eggs were beginning to rupture…

Quong harbors a fascination with the ocean and everything it contains. As an avid diver, he spends a lot of time underwater. And via his YouTube channel, he shares a lot of his sub-aquatic adventures with the online community.

Alongside his online offerings, Quong has also contributed to projects that chart and reveal sea life in Victoria, Australia. Furthermore, he has helped produce programs for the BBC as a well a number of Australian documentary makers.

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Coming from Melbourne, there are no shortages of opportunities for Quong to get out and dive. The city is built on the edge of a sweeping section of coastline known as Port Phillip Bay. The waters here – actually comprising more than 16 separate smaller bays – are home to three marine sanctuaries as well as a large number of shipwrecks.

In 2013, Quong was out in the bay when he came across an amazing sight. Beneath a small landing stage he found an adult octopus watching over hundreds of little eggs. Immediately, the underwater videographer took out his camera and began to film.

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Posted to YouTube in 2014, Quong’s footage opens with a clip of the mother octopus tending to her eggs. She guards them fiercely, stretching out her body across them to form a barrier between her babies and the diver.

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Luckily though, Quong is able to zoom his camera in to get a better look at the unhatched octopus offspring. They are small, white and torpedo-shaped, with two black eyes clearly visible through the translucent skin of their eggs.

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Quong was so mesmerized by the  impressive spawn that he decided to chart the eggs’ development. Consequently, over the course of about 21 days, the diver took to the water repeatedly to document the embryonic octopuses’ progress.

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The mom and her babies belong to the Pale Octopus (Octopus pallidus) species. They are commonly found in Victoria’s bay areas and often find their own use for human garbage, hiding in submerged litter in daytime. In addition, females have been known to lay their eggs on discarded trash too.

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Over the course of Quong’s video, using cut-together footage shot across a three-week period, the eggs transform from a milky white color to a pinkish-orange. Soon after, the hatching begins. And Quong is there to capture the spellbinding moment that one egg appears to deflate before releasing a tiny, perfectly formed octopus.

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One by one, the baby octopuses begin to wriggle their tiny tentacles free from their eggs before floating away on the ocean current. This transfixing process is repeated until almost all of the eggs are empty.

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Before long, the bottom of the jetty is teaming with tiny, octopus offspring. It’s not just a landmark moment for them, however. As so often happens in the natural world, as one animal sets out on its life journey, another creature is about to reach its end…

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After laying her eggs, a female octopus dedicates her life to protecting them. She forms a barrier between them and potential attackers. She also uses her tentacles to manipulate the current and ensure the eggs enjoy a steady stream of well-oxygenated water.

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This work is all-encompassing. As a result, a female never leaves her babies’ sides – even to go and eat. By the time her eggs hatch, the adult is utterly exhausted. As her babies scatter, the octopus mother dies. Her energy supplies completely depleted, she passes away as her babies float off into the ocean.

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And the mother’s sacrifice is not the only sad aspect of octopus birth. Following their hatching, Quong reported that many of the tiny octopuses rapidly became little more than tasty snacks for bigger predators. However, that hasn’t affected the public’s fascination with his footage.

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Since going live in 2014, Quong’s video of the hatching octopuses has attracted more than four million views. Furthermore, it has received close to 2,000 comments from a wide selection of fascinated wildlife fans.

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For one viewer, Quong’s video sparked an interest in octopuses in general. “This is so beautiful,” they wrote. “Sometimes I think how interesting would it be to have a meaningful interaction with octopus like we do with dogs, cats, horses, dolphins.”

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Clearly enthralled by the video, the commentator added. “They are very smart and curious. The mom seems to be so careful and loving. I think this species has so much to tell us… I hope all of them went well, what a cute family.”

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After hatching, these baby octopuses will grow rapidly until they reach about 23 inches in length. Once fully grown, the cephalopods have no time to lose in seeking a mate – on average octopuses only live for between three and five years.

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However, for both sexes, mating marks the beginning of the end of their lives. Males usually die a few months after breeding, while, as previously mentioned, females tend to pass soon after their eggs hatch. But as each baby octopus drifts away into the ocean, the circle of life continues.

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