Get to know the Giant Pacific Octopus

Discovery Place Science

Have you met our newest World Alive resident?

Recently, we had the pleasure of adding a Giant Pacific Octopus to our aquarium family and the Museum has been buzzing ever since.

What’s so special about the Giant Pacific Octopus?

Well, for one, it’s the largest species of octopus in the world. They’re also the longest-living species and can live up to five years, with an average life span of three years.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about them is their intelligence. Each octopus has a unique personality and behaves in a manner all their own.

Characteristics of a Giant Pacific Octopus

One of the many questions our aquarists have been asked is, “How do we know if it’s a male of a female?”

Males have about 100 fewer suction cups on the tip of one of their tentacles. This tentacle is called a hectocotylus and is used during mating.

Females have suction cups across the entire length of their tentacles. When looking at our octopus, notice that her suction cups go all the way up her tentacles. That’s how we can tell it’s a she!

Our Giant Pacific Octopus weighs 10 pounds, with the average weight being 50 lbs. or more. This means she’s on the smaller side and still has some growing left to do.

The Giant Pacific Octopus is a master of camouflage and can change color or texture depending on their surroundings. In our enclosure, you may have to look closely at the sides to see her perched, or you might get lucky and see her crawling or swimming around the tank.


Not only are these creatures masters of disguise, but they are master escape artists as well. Lots of research went into her enclosure to mimic her natural habitat in the wild and to keep her in her tank.

Octopuses are very intelligent creatures and need enrichment activities to keep them mentally stimulated. Ours will play with toys, open jars and solve puzzles to get prized food items. We’ve added environmental enrichment to her tank as well, such as kelp plants and enough hiding spots to keep her happy.

The Giant Pacific Octopus typically resides in the deep waters from Korea and Japan to Alaska and even California.


We feed our octopus a wide variety of seafood. In the wild, they eat crabs, clams, snails, small fish or other octopuses. They have a hard shell-like beak for tearing apart their prey.


Octopuses are solitary animals and choose to spend most of their life by themselves. They only mate once in their lifetime.

Females will choose a mate and then lay anywhere from 18,000 to 74,000 eggs, hanging them from the roof of a deep-water den.

The female then watches over the eggs for up to seven months and doesn’t eat. She’ll usually die shortly after the young hatch.

Stop by the World Alive aquarium to see this fascinating octopus!

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