The Ocampa or Ocampans are a humanoid species who live on the planet Ocampa in the Delta Quadrant. Their early history is shrouded in mystery but their own legends tell of a time when they were capable of great mental feats. (VOY: "Cold Fire", "Shattered")
Some five hundred generations before the 2370s, Nacene explorers from another galaxy inadvertently damaged the atmosphere of the planet Ocampa so badly that all nucleogenic particles were lost, thus rendering the atmosphere incapable of producing rain. The planet rapidly became a desert. The Nacene left two of their kind behind to "honor the debt that could never be repaid" to the Ocampa. The male Nacene, known as the Caretaker to the Ocampa, led the endangered species through tunnels into a vast underground city constructed especially for them. The Caretaker provided them with food, entertainment, water from subterranean sources, and power from the Caretaker's array nearby in space. The Nacene then sealed the Ocampa in, using a force barrier. The Ocampa ruling Elders were subsequently charged with discovering the wishes of the Caretaker, who had become almost a deity to the Ocampan populace. The Ocampa remained in this state for five hundred generations.
By 2371, a dissident movement had developed among the younger generations of Ocampa. They moved out of the city and began to provide for themselves. They were fascinated by ancient stories stating that the Ocampa had once had extraordinary mental capacities. The Elders claimed that the stories were apocryphal, but the dissidents believed these mental powers had only become dormant after centuries of dependence on the Caretaker. In that same year, their reliance on the Caretaker was forcibly ended by the entity's death and the destruction of the array. They had enough energy in the city's reserves to last until 2376 – then they would be forced to return to the planet's surface. (VOY: "Caretaker")
In 2072, the female Nacene, called Suspiria by the Ocampa, decided to leave her mate to seek out "more interesting places." She took several hundred Ocampa with her. Under Suspiria's guidance, these Ocampa developed their mental talents and created technology capable of increasing their natural life spans. Sadly, they also lost some of the Ocampa's native kindness, becoming arrogant and dangerous.
The Ocampa are humanoid and resemble Humans except for a few folds of skin around their ears. They are born without the ear folds, which grow when the infants grow older. They age very rapidly, resulting in an average life span of only nine years. Consequently, they develop and learn extremely quickly. Most of their growth takes place in the first six months, and by one year old, they have reached a young adult stage. They remain in this stage for several years.
Between the ages of four and five, female Ocampa enter the elogium, the time of sexual maturation. During the elogium, a mitral sac forms on the back of the female. The sac accommodates a developing child (or children), and it is from the sac that the child will be born, as its mother stands upright.
The ipasaphor, a sticky yellow substance, appears on the female's hands for the six-day mating bond. Once the ipasaphor has appeared, mating must commence within fifty-two hours. (VOY: "Elogium", "Before and After")
Having remained young-looking for a number of years, they reach middle age sometime around their seventh year. Again, their aging seems to stop, only to rapidly increase near their ninth year with the onset of the morilogium. At this stage of life, the Ocampa move from middle-age to extreme old-age in the space of a few weeks, becoming confused and amnesiac before dying. (VOY: "Before and After")
All Ocampa appear to be natural telepaths, able to communicate with members of their species and those of other species, as well. Among the more unusual mental abilities exhibited by the Ocampa were eidetic memory, precognition, telekinesis of varying strength, and the ability to sense and manipulate the subatomic level of matter. Tanis, an Ocampa living on Suspiria's array, demonstrated to Kes that she could control the life-force in living things, causing them to grow or die as she wished. Tanis also told Kes that the Ocampa could join Suspiria in a subspace layer called Exosia, which he described as a realm of pure thought.
In early 2374, Kes experienced a rapid and uncontrollable blossoming of her mental abilities. Her body and everything around her, including Voyager, began to destabilize at the subatomic level. Kes left the ship and allowed this process to complete itself, apparently evolving into a being of pure energy. She could then move objects through space without need of conventional propulsion, and later exhibited the ability to travel through time.
The first material evidence of the Ocampa is the note of a single word, "Androgynous", which was part of a couple of brief notes on Star Trek: Voyager's early development that were written on 30 July 1993. By 3 August 1993, it was still undecided if the species was to have genders or be androgynous, though a lifespan of seven years had been postulated for the species and the aliens had been nicknamed "Mayfly", since their short lifespan would be in common with the insect of the same name. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 175, 176-177 & 199) The aliens' ultimate lifespan of "only about nine years" and the fact that they have genders were chosen on or had been chosen by 17 August 1993, when another series of notes described the female main character from this species (i.e. Kes) as a "delicate creature" and suggested, "We might want to endow her with some kind of special, super-human ability." (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 189) There was, in fact, a continuing discussion about giving her one or more types of physic ability, which culminated in parapsychological research being carried out by Zayra Cabot and Joan Pearce Research Associates. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 199) On 21 September 1993, the producers received the research report from Joan Pearce. Following examination of the possibilities presented in the document, the producers finally decided to initially imbue the female Mayfly with some measure of telepathic ability and to then see how stories developed from that point onwards. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 206) The species had been named Ocampa by the end of that month, at which point the name appeared in the first draft of the series writers' bible. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 208)
In the String Theory trilogy, The Doctor was sent into Ocampa's distant past by a Nacene who wanted The Doctor to prevent the birth of a Nacene/Ocampa hybrid that it perceived as a threat. During this visit, it was revealed that Ocampa sometimes receive residual memories from ancestors after they are born, their short lifespan making such a detail a valuable bonus. Kes, it would appear, is one such Ocampa, and it is revealed that she has told all she remembers to The Doctor prior to her departure from the ship. It was also shown that, in the past, Ocampa was a planet on a level similar to Earth in the Middle Ages, with a nobility-style system, but with certain military generals possessing powerful telepathic abilities.
To explain how the Ocampan population could be maintained despite each female only giving birth once, the Star Trek: Myriad Universes novella "Places of Exile" (in Infinity's Prism) suggests that twin and triplet births are common among Ocampa. In the acknowledgments, author Christopher L. Bennett credits Bernd Schneider's Ex Astris Scientia website for the idea.