Fred Bavendam//Minden Pictures///Getty Images via Robert Kruhlwich//NPR
She constantly waves her arms gently over the plaits of eggs, making sure that nothing harmful settles on them. With her siphon, she blows water gently over them to keep them aerated…she uses her arms to keep potential predators away from the eggs, and as far away from the den as possible…she normally does not leave the den at any time.
Throughout this whole period of more than half a year, she never eats…All of the energy in her body is slowly consumed by her work until, by the time the offspring emerge, she has nearly starved to death.
But the mom is near exhaustion. She hasn’t eaten for so long (probably because food could attract predators, or because debris from eating could bring parasites near the eggs), she keeps gently blowing water over the babies, pushing them from the den for as long as she can until she herself floats free and sometimes, only two or three meters from the den opening, she stops breathing…and dies.
the first paragraph comes from Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid by wendy williams. the second paragraph is from the npr article linked above.
the giant pacific octopus: no mother could give more.