Pelagic Larval Stage

September 3, 2011

I love this video of baby giant octopi (5mm long) at the Vancouver Aquarium:

The CBC has an article about the event  and states that it is unlikely that any of the 300 hatchlings will survive:

Chances of survival are very low because giant Pacific octopuses have a seven to ten month long pelagic larval stage. To further our knowledge of octopus reproduction, we will attempt to feed and maintain some the larvae for as long as possible.

Pelagic means open water, think deep blue (i.e. no bottom) vs. a reef. I first read about pelagic larval stages in the book Reef Fish Behavior and was blown away at how profoundly different this mechanism is compared to anything I’m used to in the animal world.

I have a built-in assumption that parents and offspring share the same habitat (think Finding Nemo). With most reef fish, not only do the babies never see their parents again, they most likely will never see the same reef their parents inhabit. There is no nepotism on the reef.

How cool is that? And the giant Pacific octopus larvae can’t survive without this stage, or at least no one has figured out what is missing in an aquarium environment (yet).

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4 Responses to “Pelagic Larval Stage”


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  2. Rose Says:

    Two things.1. Sara meeiotnnd in a podcast that she had a recipe for Reef Flakes. What was the combination she used. I have a 120 I’ve been planning for years and I just got an email that the Reef Flakes are available again at Premium Aquatics. Apparently they are the only ones who sale it.2. How about you guys do a podcast on organisms that double as test kits? What I mean is experienced reefers can often tell when some parameter is out of whack by looking at the animals in the tank. I know this anecdotal but I bet there are some useful yellow canaries .BTW, met Gary and his wife when he came to Milwaukee to do a talk on reef photography (WRS)Saw Sara in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talking about Foster&Smith and got excited.ThanksDarius Wright (Aquaboogie)


  3. I’m a listener and also a docent for the Steinhart at the Cal Academy. It’s always so nice hear from repeat visitors and get a chance to see more of the museum, especially since the place is always changing. The number of cold-water exhibits hasn’t really changed though, but animals come and go, whole new exhibits go up, and some of the smaller tanks have been revised. One of my favorite cold-water animals in a small thank is the Lion’s Mane Nudibranch, which come and go a few times a year. The aquarium has a less-than-straightforward layout so you may have simply walked into a section you previous never seen. The western side of the aquarium has always been all cold-water (California) exhibits, while the coral/tropical tanks occupy the entire eastern side, the middle section (where you found the archer fish) is a mix, and the far western side is the freshwater Amazon tanks.You highlighted one of my favorite stories to tell visitors about the archer fish and Burmese vine snakes living in opposite universes. You’re lucky to have seen the archer fish being fed because I’ve never been there when it happens. I’ve seen the vine snakes being fed small feeder goldfish, an incredible and fun sight to watch.

  4. Tieta Says:

    I recently found your site and I enyoejd listening to all of your podcasts. It took me a few weeks to get through all of them, but now that I am finished, I miss listening to them! I learned many useful tips and I have a better understanding of my success and failures. It’s comforting to know, that I am not alone. Please keep them coming!Cary


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