A video of a baby octopus hatching at a marine attraction centre in the US has become an online hit.
The 10-second clip, posted on Twitter by the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Centre in Virginia, shows a Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus) emerging out of an egg sac.
The video has garnered more than 7,000 retweets and 16,000 likes since it was posted on February 7.
According to the team at Virginia Aquarium, the mother octopus laid between 100 and 200 eggs, which were incubating in the exhibit.
A spokesman for the centre said: “At one point, she knocked down the small bundle and our team was able to recover it.”
The team realised the octopuses were about to hatch when they noticed the chromatophores – special cells in the deeper layers of the skin that contain pigment and reflect light – were firing while the young offspring were inside the egg sacs.
The octopuses changed colour immediately after hatching, which the team put down to the stress of being in a new environment for the first time. However, the baby cephalopods were quick to adapt to their surroundings.
The team said on Twitter: “After the initial hatch they did calm back down.
“Once they landed in the hatchling aquarium, they began utilising their chromatophores more normally and working to blend in with the exhibit.”
For those wondering, the brine shrimp swimming up to the eggs before hatch was one of the octopus’s first meal.
The adult Caribbean Reef Octopus, also known as Caribbean Two-Spot, is about five inches (12.5cm) in length and can cover a space of about 23 inches (58cm).
They tend to live on their own and are found in the Bahamas and around the Caribbean.
The offspring have a very quick growth rate because of their whirlwind lifespan of 12 to 16 months. The males die after mating while the female continue to live until the eggs hatch.