The Alaska SeaLife Center’s family of octopuses is growing. A giant Pacific octopus, named Gilligan, laid thousands of eggs about a year ago. Less than a hundred hatched this month. Aquarium curator Richard Hocking expects the remaining eggs to hatch by the end of May.
Once the eggs hatch, staff transport them to a separate tank where they can feed on zooplankton.
Young giant Pacific octopuses are about a quarter-inch long and have fully developed eyes. An adult is between nine and 16 feet long.
But the odds the hatchlings will make it to adulthood are slim. The survival rate of hatchlings is 1 percent in the wild, and there is only one documented case of a giant Pacific octopus successfully being reared in an aquarium.
The Alaska SeaLife Center has attempted to raise hatchlings twice before. Both attempts were unsuccessful. The center says the babies are extremely delicate and have complex nutritional needs. Still, the staff is hopeful this time will be different.
Visitors can see Gilligan and her hatchlings in the aquarium’s “Octopus Grotto” exhibit.