Largest Octopus Cluster Ever Seen

IT IS SAID THAT AS far as humans are concerned, the deep sea might as well be another planet considering its vast unexplored corners and mysteries.

That sense of mystery was certainly present last week when marine scientists witnessed a sight never before seen by humans: a deep-sea vista of over a thousand octopuses, dotting the ocean floor, curled and wedged among the rocks.

This discovery was made off the coast of Monterey, California, an area known for its flourishing marine ecosystems. But this finding was surprising even to scientists who are already accustomed to the extraterrestrial nature of marine ecology.

The light purple octopuses, a deep-sea species (Muusoctopus robustus), were almost entirely brooding females, tucked into nooks with outward-facing arms wrapped around their bodies. They take this defensive position to protect each of their dozens of white incubating eggs, says King. Video footage shows them gently cleaning and aerating their clutches among gardens of orange anemones.

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