Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus at the Tennessee Aquarium

Giant Pacific Octopuses are the largest octopuses in the world. Danny Alexander, a senior aquarist at the Tennessee Aquarium said they can have an arm stretch of anywhere from 50 to 100 feet.

"Most have eight arms, but 'Seven' is special. She only came to us with eight arms," said Alexander. There are two Giant Pacific Octopuses in the tank at the Aquarium -- one is named Taco and the other is named Seven. Each one of the arms has 200 suction cups, meaning that each octopus has more than a couple thousand suction cups. They can control each one of those cups individually. Alexander explained they are more than just fascinating to look at -- they are very curious creatures.

"...extremely intelligent. Some people describe them intelligence-wise as a cross between a dog and a cat," said Alexander. At the aquarium, they focus on enrichment with several props.

"We have a Mr. Potato head here and we haven't found that they can put it back together, but they can certainly tear them apart. They like doing it," said Alexander. They also have things like jars, footballs, and long sticks.

"It usually takes them just a minute or two to that a lid off," said Alexander.

Giant Pacific Octopuses have smooth or spiky skin texture and they can even change colors. Alexander explained that when an octopus has spikes sticking out it can be a mood indicator. These creatures can weigh anywhere from 60 to 100 pounds and have three hearts. Alexander joked about how it is hard to imagine that a creature this large started off so small.

"It is amazing that such a large, beautiful creature can start off as an egg the size of a grain of rice." said Alexander.

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