Giant Pacific Octopus

image description Pacific Octopus, Octopus dofleini

Fast Facts

  • Giant Pacific Octopuses can change color within a fraction of a second, by stretching or squeezing their skin, which contains millions of elastic cells with colored pigments.
  • Are terminal spawners, meaning females die after they reproduce.
  • Giant Pacific Octopuses lay 18,000 – 74,000 eggs at a time.
  • Are found in colder temperature waters (60 degrees or colder) from Alaska down to southern California, as well as off the coasts of Korea and Japan. 
  • Giant Pacific Octopuses are highly intelligent and therefore require significant enrichment activities to avoid boredom. Aquarium of the Bay offers them a wide variety of puzzles and challenges to keep them busy and having fun!
  • Have highly-developed eyesight and are extremely strong – using all eight arms, an octopus can move more than 700 lbs.

Little is known about the status of wild octopus populations. They are not protected nor listed with CITES or IUCN. They are known to be sensitive to polluted water.

Go Deeper!

When threatened, Giant Pacific Octopus shoot out an inky substance that creates an instant smokescreen. Sometimes the ink cloud takes the actual shape of an octopus, providing a diversion that allows the real octopus to escape from predators.

With no skeleton to get in its way, Giant Pacific Octopuses can also squeeze their bodies into incredibly small spaces – any space larger than its powerful beak is fair game.

Giant Pacific Octopuses are terminal spawners, meaning females die after they reproduce. They typically mate closer to the end of their fairly short lifespan, which on average is only five years. Luckily, octopuses lay anywhere from 18,000 – 74,000 eggs, helping to strengthen the vitality of the species. While waiting for her eggs to hatch, the mother remains with the eggs and does not eat, staying to protect her babies at all times. Octopuses typically die shortly after their babies hatch.

The animal dines on a wide range of seafood including clams and other mussels, but have a particular hankering for crabs. With their love for crabs, coupled with a sweet spot for den-like enclosures, octopuses often mistake crabber’s nets as hunting and hiding ground, where they can be accidentally caught. If the octopus kills and eats the crabber’s catch, many fishermen respond by killing the octopus.

Aquarium of the Bay works with local fishermen to change this behavior by purchasing the octopuses for exhibit, where they help strengthen visitors’ connection to the animals.

The Aquarium’s Animal Care team posts fliers around local piers and tackle stores, alerting crabbers to this opportunity.

“Aquarium of the Bay is always happy to provide a safe haven for octopuses that would otherwise meet a hasty demise,” says Christina J. Slager, Director of Animal Care for Aquarium of the Bay.

Ready to meet a giant pacific octopus? Buy your tickets now!