Giant Pacific octopus

Surviving Through Adaptation

In this multi-exhibit gallery, diverse animals demonstrate how adaptations help them survive. A giant Pacific octopus changes color, groupers lurk, and electric eels generate electricity.

Animals in This Exhibit

  • Atlantic Creole Fish

    This fish can be any color from gray to a very bright red. It inhabits coral reefs and hard bottoms, preferring the shallow water but is found as deep as 165 feet.

    Creole Fish
  • Banggai Cardinalfish

    This small, disc-shaped fish is easily recognized by its tasseled first dorsal fin; long, tapering second dorsal fin; and deeply forked tail, or caudal fin.

    Banggai cardinalfish
  • Black Grouper

    Black grouper are typically dark in color and have several sets of teeth. All black grouper are born female.

    Black Grouper
  • Chambered Nautilus

    The chambered nautilus is a mollusk, related to the octopus, squid, clam and snail.

    Chambered nautilus
  • Electric Eel

    Electrophorus electricus—everything about this eel’s scientific name says high voltage! Of the fishes able to generate an electrical discharge, electric eels are by far the champions, producing up to 600 volts!

    National Aquarium – Electric Eel
  • Fairy Basslets

    Fairy Basslets are small, vibrantly colored fish and are coral reef inhabitants.

    Fairy Basslet
  • Giant Pacific Octopus

    These masters of camouflage can quickly change the color and texture of their skin to match the background.

    Giant Pacific octopus
  • Graysby

    Graysbys are solitary and secretive, often hiding during the day.

  • Longhorn Cowfish

    This charismatic fish is a member of the boxfish family, and is easily recognizable by its long horns that protrude from the front of its head.

    Longhorn Cowfish
  • Longnose Gar

    The longnose gar is an elongated fish with a long, thin snout full of needle-like teeth perfectly suited for catching prey. Longnose gar are distinguished from other gar species by the long snout, with a length at least 10 times the width.

    Longnose Gar
  • Longsnout Seahorse

    The longsnout seahorse has a yellow body, with flecks of brown and black.

    Longsnout Seahorse
  • Peacock Mantis Shrimp

    The peacock Mantis Shrimp is one of the more interesting species in the animal kingdom. It is multicolored with shades of bright green, orange, red, and blue on its shell, and its forearms are covered in spots. This ferocious crustacean has club-like appendages that fold under its body, similar to a praying mantis. The legs act like a spring to attack its prey. What is amazing about this creature is that its clubs strike at 50 miles per hour in milliseconds. One strike is 50 times faster than the blink of a human eye! It can punch 50,000 times between molts without damaging its clubs. The punch of a mantis shrimp is so strong that it can break through the shells of its prey and even thick glass. Another fascinating feature of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp is that it has the most complex eyes of any animal. It is able to see ten times more color than human beings, including ultraviolet light. The shrimp use this exceptional eyesight to detect both predators and prey. The Peacock Mantis Shrimp lives in the crevices of coral or rocks on sandy or shelly ocean bottoms. They are very protective of their territory and exhibit aggressive behavior towards intruders.

    Mantis Shrimp
  • Spotfin Butterflyfish

    The black bar across this fish’s eye confuses predators.

    National Aquarium - Spotfin butterflyfish

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