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Giant Pacific Octopus

Enteroctopus dofleini

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Few sea creatures have stimulated as much fascination and dread among human beings as this cephalopod, due largely to the animal’s almost alien-like appearance. Their brightly-colored wrinkled skin, bulbous eyes and swirling tentacles covered in suckers is enough to make even the heartiest person take a step back or suddenly catch their breath.

The Giant Pacific Octopus is aptly-named, with the largest ever caught weighing in at nearly 600 pounds (272 kg). They hunt the ocean bottom in search of crab, scallops, clams and other crustaceans. Their soft bodies are extremely flexible, allowing the animal to squeeze in and out of even the narrowest crevice. Their venomous parrot-like beak and the ability to eject ink into the water to blind other animals are some of the octopus’s most effective defensive and predatory tools. Perhaps just as effective, however, is the animal’s intelligence and adaptability. Although it was assumed for years that octopuses were unintelligent creatures, recent studies have demonstrated the animal’s ability to use simple tools, identify individuals, navigate mazes and access both long- and short-term memories.

They are preyed upon by Harbor Seals, sharks and some whales.

Range and Habitat

These animals can be found all along the western coast of North America, from Alaska to southern California. They live primarily in coastal areas among rocky shorelines and in tide pools.

Conservation Status

Common.