The New Octopus Garden
Social media has been abuzz with the finding of yet another deep-sea octopus nursery, this one off the coast of Costa Rica, at a depth of about 2,800 meters (about 9,200 feet). This is the third discovery of an octopus nursery in the deep ocean; in 2019 I reported in this blog about the finding of a nursery of Muusoctopus robustus*, then nicknamed “The Octopus Garden,” a gentle allusion to Ringo Starr’s song in the 1969 Beatles album Abbey Road. The original Octopus Garden was located near the Davidson Seamount, a submarine feature located off the coast of California. Such nurseries are formed when deep-sea octopus spawn together, then proceed to take care of eggs for the period prior to hatching. They occur near low-temperature submarine hydrothermal vents, where seawater percolates through volcanic crevices forming underwater hot springs.
The research trip off Costa Rica was led by Beth Orcutt of the Bigelow Laboratory in Maine and Jorge Cortés* of the University of Costa Rica. The octopus species in the newly found nursery, also of the genus Muusoctopus, is new to science. Read more about it here.
* The species was named in 1990 by Gilbert L. Voss and William G. Pearcy. Gil was one of the leading cephalopod specialists of his time. He was also the head of the academic committee for my Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries at the University of Miami. And coincidentally, or perhaps because the world of biological oceanography is a small one, the leading scientist for the University of Costa Rica in the recent trip, Jorge Cortés, a good friend, was my graduate schoolmate at the University of Miami and my host for several teaching and collaborative visits to the University of Costa Rica in the early 2000s.