SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tako, the Japanese word for octopus, is a Giant Pacific Octopus that currently calls the OdySea Aquarium home. She is a popular attraction, and her caretaker Paige said guests may have noticed a change with her.
That change, Paige explained, is "senescence," the last stage of an octopus' life.
As she approaches the end of her life, Tako’s motherly instincts have fully kicked in. All of her focus is now on her eggs as she reaches the final stage of her life.
“Once a female has laid eggs, she is actually going to stop eating and focus all of that attention on caring for those eggs," the trainer explained. "She’s gonna touch those eggs, she's gonna breathe water over those eggs to keep them nice and clean and make sure they have oxygen.”
Sadly, Tako’s eggs are infertile. However, she does not know that, so she is still caring for all of her eggs.
It's the utmost care that a mother can give. She's going to sit there and take care of those eggs until her last breath. Tako doesn't know they aren't fertile so she's going to follow that same process as if they were.
By monitoring Tako’s habits, caretakers can estimate how much closer she is to death. Right now, Tako is still eating. So she still has a little more time.
“Eventually Tako will stop eating, stop wanting to interact, she solely is just going to want to care for those eggs and that will be the end of her life whenever her body will tell us its ready, she’ll go pass on her own,” said Paige.
Paige and Tako have a very special bond, and Paige is very sad to see Tako go.
Paige was originally hired at OdySea at the same time they received Tako, so she could help with his care and research.
With tears in her eyes, Paige said, “her bond and I's is incredibly strong. I’ve worked with previous octos before, but the bond I've created with her surpasses everything. That trust level, we care for her deeply, I love her very much.”
Paige plans to get some ink to permanently honor and remember Tako.
“She's left a mark. Her suction cups have left a mark on my heart for sure.”
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