An Octopus Garden Springs to Life in Dana Point

DANA POINT, Calif. - More than 300 two-spot octopus hatchlings have joined other specimens of local marine life in the small aquaria system of Dana Point's Ocean Institute, officials said Thursday.

The mother was caught off the coast of Laguna Beach last year and, because she had had no contact with a male since capture, staff was unsure her eggs were fertile, said the facility's aquarist Julianne Steers.

However, females, who lay their eggs near the end of their two-year life span, have the capacity to store male sperm for long periods of time, Steers said.

"It's very exciting," Steers said. "We're always glad to see that our marine life adapts well enough to life in our aquaria to reproduce."

The two-spot octopus lives off the coast of California and can be identified by its circular blue eyespots on each side of the head.

Steers has a scientific collecting permit issued by the state that allowed her to legally collect the octopus, which has been used for educational purposes.

They have a friendly temperament and a hardiness that make them excellent aquarium specimen, Steers said.

The hatchlings are about 4 millimeters long and are drifting about their tank as plankton, with some eating brine shrimp. They can grow up to three feet in length, and live about two years, Steers said.

The institute's aquaria contain 160 species and 1,200 specimens of local marine life.

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