Uncovering the Coolest Giant Pacific Octopus Facts

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Are you ready to learn about a color-changing magician with suction cups on its arms and a strong preference for solitude? This fascinating creature is the world’s largest octopus. Its boundless curiosity reminds us there’s no reason to stop exploring, questioning, and expanding our world understanding.

Harbor Breeze Cruises is pleased to present eight of the coolest giant Pacific octopus facts we could find (eight, of course, is a nod to their octet of arms!). We hope these giant Pacific octopus facts “wow” you and encourage you to share this blog post with others who would enjoy learning about these reddish-pink loners of the deep.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #1: These Giants Are Not So Giant at First

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s giant Pacific octopus webpage notes that “even though the giant Pacific octopus is the largest in the world, it hatches from an egg the size of a rice grain. The tiny hatchling is just over a quarter-inch long and weighs 22 milligrams (less than one-thousandth of an ounce).” But wait—there’s more! This renowned aquarium adds, “On day one, its eight little arms already have about 14 tiny suckers each. It drifts in the surface waters, eating plankton for up to three months, then settles to the seafloor weighing five grams. It takes another year for a young octopus to grow to about two pounds.” The giant Pacific octopus continues to grow throughout its life, spanning three to five years.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #2: The “Largest Octopus” Title is Well-Deserved

With an average arm span of 16 feet across, there’s no doubt that this species is the world’s largest octopus. The average giant Pacific octopus weighs a little over 100 pounds, but the largest Pacific octopus on record weighed over 600 pounds and had an arm span of 30 feet across! In addition to growing bigger than any other octopus on the planet, National Geographic states that the giant Pacific octopus also lives longer than any other octopus species.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #3: They Are the Houdinis of the Ocean

The giant Pacific octopus is an incredibly talented escape artist. It squeezes and contorts and changes colors and deftly employs those eight limbs to finagle the kind of escape that’s worthy of media attention. If you have some time, search “octopus escapes” on YouTube; you’ll be amazed by their problem-solving skills and remarkable flexibility.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #4: Their IQ Level Seems Off the Charts

The giant Pacific octopus has a big brain and knows how to use it! It demonstrates skills related to long-term memory and problem-solving. This species has also shown a capacity to develop connections with humans. If you’re interested in reading a fantastic non-fiction book, we highly recommend The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery; the publisher’s website, Simon and Schuster, states that this book “chronicles this growing scientific appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the nature and consciousness of the mind.” You can read an excerpt from the book on the author’s website here.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #5: One Heart Isn’t Enough

One of our favorite giant Pacific octopus facts? This beautiful creature has not one, not two, but three hearts! Two of their hearts pump blood to their gills, while the third pumps it to the rest of the body. All three hearts work together, ensuring this creature can navigate the ocean with infinite prowess.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #6: Their Blood Isn’t Red

The giant Pacific octopus—and all other octopus species, for that matter—has blue blood on account of a molecule in its body called hemocyanin. This copper-based molecule is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood like hemoglobin does for humans and animals. The blue coloration occurs when hemocyanin binds with oxygen.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #7: Females Are Maternal Marvels

A female giant Pacific octopus lays between 18,000 and 74,000 eggs. They “hang from the roof of her den in hundreds of strands of around 250 eggs each,” according to Monterey Bay Aquarium. Just because the mother lays her eggs outside of her body doesn’t mean that she’s not devoted to taking care of them—in fact, she dwells inside her den for up to six months and helps those eggs develop by fanning them and “contracting her body to shoot streams of oxygen- and nutrient-rich water over them.” As if that isn’t enough of a selfless act, the mother octopus fasts during the development of her eggs; their hatching usually coincides with her demise.

Giant Pacific Octopus Fact #8: Scientists Study Their Middens

Scientists who have the diet of the giant Pacific octopus have discovered that they like to feast on crabs, clams, and other boneless invertebrates. Upon catching their prey, they pull it apart, bite it open, or drill through its shell. After the giant Pacific octopus has enjoyed its leisurely meal, it creates a midden—a rubbish pile composed of shells, bones, and other leftovers. Studying it allows scientists to continue to learn more about the giant Pacific octopus and how they survive in the chilly waters they inhabit, from Japan and Mexico to Alaska and California.

Experience the Wonders of the Pacific on a Harbor Breeze Cruise

         If you enjoyed reading all of these giant Pacific octopus facts, you’d love our whale-watching cruises! Our crew at Harbor Breeze Cruises would be delighted to take you and yours out on the Pacific Ocean, where we’ll try to spot amazing marine animals and help you learn even more about all the creatures that reside in and around it.

         Please consider booking a cruise with us; an affordable ticket and memorable adventure await you next time in Southern California. We invite you to purchase tickets online or by calling us at 562-983-6880.

Even though the world’s largest octopus spends most of its life hidden and alone, there’s a case to be made for you to see and experience its natural habitat and ask our Aquarium of the Pacific educators any questions you may have about this marvelous creature that exists beneath the waters upon which we cruise year-round.

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