For cephalopod enthusiasts, they must be excited once they hear about Giant Pacific Octopuses or usually called “GPOs”. Giant Pacific Octopuses are unique animals in the ocean. They are reddish-brown in appearance and have large, bulbous heads. Like the rest of the octopus family, Giant Pacific Octopuses alter colors and textures via unique pigment cells on their skin, and can blend in with even the most intricately patterned corals, plants, and rocks.
In addition, Giant Pacific Octopuses also have deadly weapons and great camouflage skills. When they are threatened, Giant Pacific Octopuses can cover them with black ink. Not to mention, they rely on their camouflage ability to be safe because they lack a protective outer shell.
Furthermore, there are many unique characteristics and features of Giant Pacific Octopuses that will impress you. Whether you are a cephalopod enthusiast or not, we are sure you may be surprised with amazing facts about this humble animal. Therefore, we have compiled the most wonderful facts about the Giant Pacific Octopus that definitely will blow your mind. Let’s dive in!
1. World’s Largest Octopus
When you hear the name, you should think that it has a huge size. However, did you know that the Giant Pacific Octopus holds the record for the largest octopus in the world? This marvelous species is the world’s largest octopus, and it lives in the Northern Pacific Ocean off the coast of the United States, up to Alaska, and around Japan.
The largest one was recorded, weighed 600 pounds and measured 30 feet in length. Meanwhile, on average, it weighs closer to 110 pounds and grows to be 16 feet across when completely mature. Not to mention, the Giant Pacific Octopus is highly intelligent and has been recorded opening jars and imitating other species.
2. The Powerful Defensive Weapon
Despite its large size, Giant Pacific Octopuses are also well armed with powerful defensive weapons. Camouflage and ink dissemination are maybe the two most essential defense traits in the arsenal of the Giant Pacific Octopus. When it finds a threat, it can change color to blend in with its surroundings by employing specialized cells, making it harder to spot. Even if it is discovered, it has the capacity to launch ink towards the adversary as an attack and a distraction. However, if confined to a narrow location with limited current flow, the ink is poisonous and can kill octopuses.
3. They Love Being Alone
Did you know that Giant Pacific Octopuses prefer to be alone? From the intertidal zone to depths of nearly 1,500 feet, these cautious predators can be found. They build snug dens within rock crevices and stay there for the majority of the day, only leaving at night to hunt for food. Crabs, clams, shrimp, and fish are preferred prey, although they’ve also been known to go after birds.
However, they finally leave their den in pursuit of love once they are ready to mate. Aside from that, the Giant Pacific Octopus is the ultimate introverted octopus, preferring to stay in their den over any cephalopod social gatherings.
4. It Has A Beak Like A Parrot
The Giant Pacific Octopuses are part of Cephalopods, as the only hard part in their body made from keratin. In fact, they have strong beaks which are similar to a parrot even though they lack bones. Their absence of bones helps them to squeeze into and through extremely small areas, but their beaks restrict them as they have larger size. Therefore, if they can get their beaks through something, the rest of their bodies will fit through as well. In addition, they forage for shrimp, clams, lobsters, and fish at night, but have also been known to consume tiny sharks by puncturing prey with their beak-like lips.
5. Masters of Camouflage
In case you are curious about how fast it can camouflage, we have the amazing fact for you. In fact, the Giant Pacific Octopuses are masters of camouflage. They can change the color and texture of their skin to resemble common elements in their environment like rock substrates and macroalgae.
These abilities are made possible by the presence of chromatophores, which are pigment cells that sit just beneath the skin’s surface. Not to mention, these pigment-filled cells cover practically the entirety of their bodies and allow them to change hues in a fraction of a second.
6. The Devoted Giant Pacific Octopus Mothers
Do you know the life cycle of the Giant Pacific Octopus? Overall, the Giant Pacific Octopus has short lives, only around 3–4 years. The female Giant Pacific Octopus has the ability to lay up to 74,000 eggs. She stays with her strings of eggs for about 6 months, protecting, cleaning, and making sure they get enough air.
Not to mention, she never leaves them during this period, eventually starving to death after accomplishing her life aim of passing on her genetic material. Some captive females appear to speed up the death by crashing into the edges of the tank, ripping off chunks of skin, or eating the tips of their own tentacles in the later stages to avoid self-cannibalism to their babies. This is indeed a mother’s sacrifice.
7. Only The Lucky Baby Giant Pacific Octopus Will Survive
When the Giant Pacific Octopus still becomes a larva, which is about the size of a grain of rice, it floats to the surface and drifts on ocean currents for 30 to 90 days in their planktonic stage. Because they live on the surface, they are so vulnerable to predators.
As a result, many don’t make it past this stage of their lives. The lucky ones finally make it to the seafloor, where they begin to grow fast. Later, they will gain 1% of their body weight per day, greatly increasing their chances of survival. Once it’s fully grown, it becomes the largest octopus which only has to fear the large ocean.
8. Giant Pacific Octopus is A Smart Animal
The Giant Pacific octopus has eight arms, three hearts, and nine brains. The gills are pumped by two of the three hearts, while the third circulates blood throughout the body. In addition, Giant Pacific Octopuses control their neurological systems with a single central brain and movement with a tiny brain in each arm.
Therefore, its complex large brains and well-developed nervous systems, has produced the capacity of long-term memory, learning, tool use, as well as problem-solving. Not to mention, they also have highly distinct personality characteristics. As they notice us examining them, their intellect and exceptional eyesight can make them appear extremely strange.
9. Very Deep Ocean Is The Best Habitat
This unique sea creature can actually be found in a variety of environments, from small tidal pools to ocean depths of 4,920 feet. However, the Giant Pacific Octopus prefers to live at depths of up to 300 feet on rocky coastal areas. Moreover, it thrives in shallow waters up to 16 feet deep.
In fact, they prefer the cold, nutrient-rich settings, and their range extends from Japan to Alaska in the northern Pacific Ocean, as well as the west coast of North America as far south as Baja California, Mexico. Moreover, they are frequently found in tide pools or hidden in crevices along the bottom in the intertidal zone. Outside of their lairs, they will frequently stack rocks and other things to create a natural safe area out of reach of predators.
10. The True Blue Blood
You might think the Giant Pacific Octopus is part of a noble family as it has blue blood. Well, it actually has true blue blood. Its blue color comes from copper-based blood with hemocyanin, unlike humans who have iron-based blood which causes red color.
Because it resides in deep, frigid waters, this blue blood also makes the Giant Pacific Octopus well adapted to the temperature. Not to mention, the copper-rich protein in their bloodstream makes it efficient for oxygen delivery in cold water settings. Moreover, two smaller hearts pump blood to the gills, while a larger heart circulates blood throughout the body.
11. They Hunt Tiny Shark
Although it looks calm on the ocean, the Giant Pacific Octopus is quite aggressive while hunting for food. When the Giant Pacific Octopus feels a rumble in its stomach, it will emerge from its home and crawl over the reef, using the tips of its arms to probe for prey. They don’t need to look at their food to know what it is since their wonderful suckers can taste and smell it. Shrimp, crabs, mollusks, and other octopuses are some of the Giant Pacific Octopus’ favorite foods.
Once it has its meals, the Giant Pacific Octopus brings it back to its burrow where it can savor it in solitude. They leave the remains of their food outside their den, which can provide insight into what they eat. In addition, the Giant Pacific Octopus will attack tiny sharks and even birds if they are feeling very daring.
12. The Rectangular Shape Pupil
One of the unique features the Giant Pacific Octopus has is that the pupil shape is rectangular. Now, you wonder why it has the distinct pupil shape? The creatures which are usually classified as prey, must defend themselves at all times of the day and night, including the Giant Pacific Octopus. Therefore they have rectangular pupils to make them have no blind spot.
In fact, they can see in all directions and control how much light they let into their eyes thanks to rectangular pupils and eyes positioned laterally on their head. They are most likely colorblind, despite the sophistication of their eyes. When you’re out hunting at night for prey while also keeping an eye out for predators, this knowledge will be a lifesaver!
13. They Can Recognize Person
According to a study conducted at the Seattle Aquarium, the behavior, breathing, and coloration of Giant Pacific Octopuses altered depending on whose face they recognized. Eight distinct Giant Pacific Octopuses were treated by either a ‘kind’ keeper who fed them or a’mean’ keeper who poked them with a bristly stick.
After only two weeks, the octopuses approached the good keeper but retreated when the mean keeper approached. This is indeed one of the smartest creatures on the ocean.
14. Largest Suction Cups As Mini Brain
The suction cups of most octopuses are approximately the size of a quarter or less. Meanwhile, the suction cups of Giant Pacific Octopuses have been measured up to 2.5 inches. They have a total of 2,240 suction cups, which are utilized to taste, grasp, and smell.
Furthermore, the suction cups are so powerful that each one contains more taste receptors than a human tongue! Surprisingly, the suckers on the Giant Pacific Octopus can spin, grab, and feel surfaces on their own. Moreover, each arm is said to include a “little brain” at the base that helps manage the suction cups and take in external data from the environment.
15. The Giant Pacific Octopus Didn’t Eat Everyday
Unlike other animals who eat everyday whenever they are hungry, the Giant Pacific Octopus has its own diet. In fact, the Giant Pacific octopuses do not eat every day. They only need to eat once every four days or even a week without eating, depending on the species. In addition, when a female octopus broods eggs, she will not eat for a month and will usually die from malnutrition as soon as the eggs hatch.