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FB Live Answers – Giant Pacific Octopus

Special thanks to all who tuned into our Facebook Live on March 28. Find the answers to all our questions here!
  • Giant Pacific Octopuses are carnivores.
  • They are generally not aggressive to humans. In fact, they are usually more curious or reclusive (which means they hide and avoid people)
  • The largest suckers on an adult (~2-2.5” diameter) can support 35lbs of weight; it’s enough to leave marks on a person’s arm if they hold on long enough.
  • Octopuses use their suckers (up to 280 on each arm) to search for and capture their food.
  • Their suckers aren’t sticky like glue, they stick by creating a vacuum between the skin of the octopus and whatever surface they’re touching.
  • Once they catch their food, they move it to their beak, which is directly in the center of their arms under their eyes.
  • They eat lots of different things. At Mystic Aquarium we feed capelin, squid, herring, clam, shrimp, silversides and clam. They also eat snails, crabs, lobsters, and even shark. Their favorite food is most likely what is most readily available. While most octopuses seem to prefer crab, Jeanne has shown preferences for both herring and clam at various times.
  • The giant Pacific octopus technically is not considered cannibalistic; however, as they are a solitary species attacking and possibly eating another octopus wouldn’t be impossible.
  • They usually eat once a day.
  • They prefer live food in the wild, but they are remarkably easy to transition to frozen restaurant-quality foods under human care.
  • Their beak doesn’t require trimming, which is good since it’s usually covered up by a lot of skin and muscle.
  • The beak is very strong and sharp. The venom on it is not deadly to a human, but it could still be dangerous. The laceration could be serious and the bacteria introduced could also be a concern. The venom would be best treated with hot water to break down the proteins. While the beak might be able to break a human bone, the octopus is also smart enough to bite a joint.
  • Fortunately, octopuses are more good-natured than one might expect. We also do a lot of desensitization and positive reinforcement to make sure we maintain a safe and positive relationship with the octopuses.
  • They have been shown to be able to discern humans visually or by taste; I like to think that she likes me, but at the very least she knows who feeds her. She does seek out interaction not involving food at times. We believe that her favorite caretaker is actually one of our volunteers. I think I come in a close second.
  • Octopuses can lay eggs or release their spermatophore even if they don’t have a mate. The eggs that Jeanne might lay (she may not lay any) wouldn’t be viable. But her body will still make them, much like a chicken.
  • Males and females only have one differing trait -males lack suckers on the end of their third right arm. Since Jeanne has suckers down to the top of every arm, she is female.
  • Octopus generally crawl along the bottom of the ocean floor, but they can swim as fast as 25mph in a short sprint.
  • Octopuses are generally nocturnal; they usually spend a large portion of the daytime curled in a den to stay safe. Jeanne will sleep curled in a corner of her habitat or hanging off a wall at the water’s surface.
  • The largest giant Pacific octopus ever recorded was 600lbs; they usually average 100-120lbs fully grown.
  • Jeanne comes from the Pacific Ocean, specifically Puget Sound. The gentleman that sent her to us personally walked her container through customs before placing her on a transport flight from Canada (FedEx).
  • We’ve had Jeanne about 1 year; they live 3-5 years.
  • Octopuses have a large brain proportional to their body size; but generally, it’s about the same size as an eye or their beak. They have 3 hearts, one for general circulation and two more to move blood through their gills.
  •  Theoretically, there may be a way to tag them for study in the wild, but they don’t always react well to injections. Also, many of the divers and scientists that study octopuses in the wild can learn individual features to reliably identify specimens for their research.
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