Giant Pacific Octopus
Our octopus exhibit is the stuff of legends. Few sea creatures have stimulated as much fascination and dread among human beings as this cephalopod, due largely to the animal’s almost alien-like appearance. Their brightly-colored wrinkled skin, bulbous eyes and swirling tentacles covered in suckers is enough to make even the heartiest Aquarium visitors take a step back or suddenly catch their breath. But our immediately emotional reaction to the octopus’s appearance has also contributed to our human tendency to both misunderstand and under-appreciate this important ocean predator.
Octopuses live along the rocky shores and in tide pools, where they prowl the ocean bottom in search of crab, scallops, clams and other crustaceans. Their soft bodies are extremely flexible, allowing the animal to squeeze in and out of even the narrowest crevice. Their venomous parrot-like beak and the ability to eject ink into the water to blind other animals are some of the octopus’s most effective defensive and predatory tools. Perhaps just as effective, however, is the animal’s intelligence and adaptability. Although it was assumed for years that octopuses were unintelligent creatures, recent studies have demonstrated the animal’s ability to use simple tools, identify individuals, navigate mazes and access both long- and short-term memories.
Enter the Octopus’s Lair
Known as the GPO for short, the Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is aptly-named, with the largest ever caught weighing in at nearly 600 pounds (272 kg). These animals can be found all along the western coast of North America, from Alaska to southern California. When visiting the Giant Pacific Octopus habitat at the Aquarium, be patient and look carefully. This shy animal will often hide herself in the dark nooks and crannies of the exhibit and you will have to flex your powers of observation to find it.