Octopus mothers are known to go to extremes when it comes to rearing their young. They unwaveringly stand guard over their eggs and forego almost all food during that time. As days pass, they begin to waste away—but their young have a better change of survival thanks to their sacrifice.
As it turns out, however, one octopus reigns supreme when it comes to motherly devotion. Graneledone boreopacifica, a pale deep-sea octopus that resembles a squeezy-toy, spends a whopping 53 months—nearly four and a half years!—standing watch over her eggs, KQED Science reports.
Scientists from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute happened to spot the steadfast octo-mom while conducting surveys about one mile below the ocean's surface, in Monterey Canyon. Their remotely operated vehicle first spotted the little octopus back in 2007, KQED Science reports, shortly after she had laid around 160 immaculate eggs.
Over the next four years, they made 18 visits to her corner of the ocean. On each visit, KQED Science continues, the octopus was there, and her eggs had grown a little bigger. Never once did they see her eat. On the last visit, however, the octopus was gone, and only empty shell casings remained.
On a later visit, the resarchers say, they spotted several very young octopuses crawling near the nest site—perhaps evidence that the faithful mother's efforts had been well spent.