The Octopus’s Garden

The remarkable secrets of octopodes ⎯ the shape-changing, scene-stealing chameleons of the sea ⎯ are revealed on a fantastic voyage through The Octopus’s Garden.

Produced by NHNZ

From amber forests of kelp through to exposed oyster beds, New Zealand’s undersea gardens provide a spectacular and constantly changing backdrop for one of the oceans’ most bizarre characters.

The Octopus’s Garden tells the remarkable story of a female octopus as she navigates her way through these undersea gardens; her close encounters and Houdini-like escapes from those who share her undersea world; and her ultimate sacrifice.

Her voyage begins on the Southern Ocean. Here jellyfish are the first of many dangers the newly hatched octopus will face on her journey from prey to predator. Amongst this minefield of stinging tentacles, very few octopodes survive their first weeks at sea.

At around two months, the octopus descends to make her home on the ocean floor. Ingeniously adapting her environment to protect her vulnerable, soft body from attack, she makes the first of many temporary homes in a vacant oyster shell.

It’s here on the oyster bed that the fast-growing octopus first encounters the two enemies with whom she will battle all her life ⎯ blue cod, and humans.

The blue cod is a ravenous and vicious foe, but it’s the octopus’s close encounters with a lobster boat, the monstrous jaws of an oyster dredge, and even a research vessel which provide some of the films most dramatic moments ⎯ and her most remarkable escapes.

She is the ultimate transformer, able to morph into any shape she desires, changing colour and even texture in the blink of an eye. And yet this master of stealth and disguise expresses emotion more transparently than almost any other creature ⎯ literally turning white with fear, and red with anger.

Poisoning, biting and strangling, she is a calculating and single-minded eight armed predator who satisfies a voracious appetite by stalking and eating the creatures who share her gardens, including her own kind.

And yet this same cannibal lavishes such maternal devotion on her developing young that the effort quite literally kills her as, weakened and emaciated after spending forty days barricaded in her lair hatching her eggs, she falls victim to a relentless attack from a blue cod.

It is the beginning of the end, and her lonely death on a desolate southern beach provides the final poignant moment of her short life.

Using innovative techniques to reveal the hidden world of the sand gardens, The Octopus’s Garden is a powerful and fascinating insight into the very private world of this chameleon of the sea.

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