Up close and personal with a giant Pacific octopus
Learn more about these graceful, intelligent creatures—then visit the Seattle Aquarium for an amazing, one-of-a-kind look through our transparent tube exhibit!
The name says it all
Giant Pacific octopuses live up to their names. While they average 90 pounds, they’re known to weigh up to 150, with the largest authenticated weight coming in at 156 pounds. And their arm spans can be up to an incredible 20 feet across—about the height of a two-story building.
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.
Because their beaks are the hardest hard parts of their bodies, giant Pacific octopuses can fit through surprisingly small spaces. If their beaks will pass through, the rest of their bodies will as well. It’s possible for a fully grown giant Pacific octopus to fit through a hole the size of a lemon!
An appetite to match
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. In the wild, their rocky dens can be recognized by the piles of discarded shells just outside the entrances. 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! Octopuses are the most efficient animals in converting food to body mass: even with all that eating and gaining, they never become fat.
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. Depending on the type of prey, they may paralyze prey such as fish with a toxic saliva, then tear into it with their parrot-like beak. Or, they may simply pull their prey’s defenses apart (as with crab shells) to get at the meal within.
Calling all divers!
Help collect data on a Puget Sound icon. If you go diving anytime during October 6-14, we’d like to know whether or not you see any giant Pacific octopuses. More information coming soon!