SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Connecting visitors with one of the most intelligent and fascinating inhabitants of San Francisco Bay, Aquarium of the Bay today welcomed a new Giant Pacific Octopus, Octopus dofleini. Like others of its kind, the animal came to the Aquarium in a roundabout fashion, by way of a local crab fisherman.
Giant Pacific Octopuses have a particular hankering for crabs as well as den-like enclosures, and often mistake crabber’s nets as a 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 Husbandry team posts fliers around local piers and tackle stores, alerting crabbers of 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 Husbandry for Aquarium of the Bay.
Giant Pacific Octopuses are professionals at the art of disguise and can change color within a fraction of a second, by stretching or squeezing their skin, which contains millions of elastic cells with colored pigments. The animals are also terminal spawners, meaning females only have one opportunity to 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 at all times and does not eat. Female octopuses typically die shortly after her babies hatch.
The newest Giant Pacific Octopus – a true testament to its name, weighing over 80 pounds – joins three others in the Aquarium’s near-shore tunnel exhibit.