Giant Pacific Octopus
Octopuses (yes, that is the correct plural of octopus) are cephalopods—a class of marine mollusks that also includes squid and cuttlefish. Cephalopod is derived from a Greek word meaning “head-feet.” Of the 800 identified living species of cephalopods, 300 are octopuses!
Giant Pacific octopuses have large heads, eight arms and are usually reddish-brown in color. They also have three hearts and a complex neural system that includes one central, cerebral ganglion and eight smaller ganglia at the base of their arms. Think of these smaller systems as external hard drives that report data back to a computer’s central processing unit.
To encourage cognitive thinking and natural hunting behaviors, we give the octopus a container with food inside. The octopus must figure out how to open the container, using its more than 1,800 suckers to locate and taste what’s inside.
Learn more about the giant Pacific octopus! Did you know that this master of camouflage can quickly change the color and texture of its skin to hide from predators?
The giant Pacific octopus can be found in southern California, northward along the coast of North America, across the Aleutian Islands and southward to Japan.
Newly hatched octopuses feed on plankton (small, microscopic organisms), while adults feed on crabs, shrimp, clams, snails, fishes and even other octopuses, using their beaks to break open hard-shelled prey.
The giant Pacific octopus is the largest and longest living species of octopus. They’ve been known to grow to more than 150 pounds, but on average weigh approximately 45 to 65 pounds.
Due to their short lifespan and reclusive habits, it’s difficult to assess populations of giant Pacific octopuses, but this species is common throughout its range.
While many young, larval octopuses are lost to predators, only large fish, marine mammals and humans are a threat to adults.