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A white wave shape.

Giant Pacific octopus

Up close and personal with these surprising cephalopods

Learn more about these graceful, intelligent creatures—then visit the Seattle Aquarium for an amazing, up-close look at an octopus in our care!

At the Aquarium

Big appetites

Giant Pacific octopuses have huge appetites. Their diets consist of crustaceans (Dungeness crabs are a particular favorite); mollusks such as clams, squid and even other species of octopus; and fish. Giant Pacific octopuses can consume 2–4% and gain 1–2% of their body weight each day. That’s the equivalent of a 150-pound person eating up to six pounds of food and gaining up to three pounds every single day!

Night moves

Generally nocturnal, giant Pacific octopuses move about and do their hunting at night. They use their arms, each covered with approximately 200 suckers, to find and hold their prey. What happens next depends on the type of prey. With fish, the octopus may paralyze their future feast with a toxic saliva, then tear into it with their parrot-like beak. With crabs and shellfish, they may simply pull their prey’s defenses (aka shells) apart to get at the meal within.

Temporary and beloved guests

Each year, the Seattle Aquarium gets a permit from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to collect a certain number of giant Pacific octopuses to live at the Aquarium, where they help educate our guests about their importance to the local ecosystem. When they show signs that they’re mature and ready to mate—typically after a stay of 12 months or so—our divers return them to their original collection location so they can complete their life cycles and reproduce.

Color control

Giant Pacific octopuses can change color at will, expressing mood, comfort level and intentions to nearby animals. They’re also able to change texture, using knobs of muscle to mimic their surroundings.

Quick facts

Giant Pacific octopuses have blue blood, eight arms and three hearts!

Adult giant Pacific octopuses can weigh from 40 to 100 pounds, with a relaxed tip-to-tip dimension of 12–14 feet.

Their arms have approximately 200 suckers each!

Explore More Invertebrates

Website maintenance

Please note: Our ticketing and membership systems will be offline for approximately two hours starting at 9pm Pacific on Tuesday, February 20. During the maintenance window, online ticketing and membership will not be available.

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Support the Seattle Aquarium

Two sea otters at the Seattle Aquarium floating on the water in their habitat, holding onto each other demonstrating a rafting behavior.

With your help, the Seattle Aquarium builds connections with our community to inspire conservation and curiosity for marine life. When you make an end-of-year gift by December 31, you'll be joining us in protecting our shared marine environment—now and for generations to come. Thank you!

An adult sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium looking upwards with its front paws resting on its front.

Giving Tuesday

Make a tax-deductible donation to the non-profit Seattle Aquarium

Your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 thanks to a very generous anonymous donor!

Sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium laying on its back, raising its head and front paws.

Cyber weekend

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