Giant Pacific Octopus

[Enteroctopus dofleini]

The Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest known species of octopus. The mantle, the highly muscled structure that houses all of the animal's organs, length can be up to 23.5 inches; and the overall length can be from 9.8 to 16.4 feet. Weight can range from 60 to 100 pounds. Normal coloration is reddish-brown, however, they can change color and alter the texture of their skin. Experts at camouflage, they can smooth out and be a uniform color when on rock and become bumpy and blotchy in seaweed. Between their arms are webs of skin, and when they capture prey, they hug it tightly, bite it, then soften it up with digestive enzymes. The octopus has no bones, so it can squeeze itself into tiny places, sometimes only a few centimeters wide. The size of its beak, the only rigid part of the body, determines where it can fit.

Location: Aquatics Exhibits



The range of the Giant Pacific Octopus is the North Pacific.


The Giant Pacific Octopus lives mainly in rocks and among stones.

Conservation Status
Least Concern
Primary Threats
Aquaculture, Human-Wildlife Coexistence

Incubation: Up to three months


Clutch: 20 to 30 thousand


Giant Pacific Octopus are not known to maintain a large territory. An individual will often frequent the same den over a long period of time. Once thought to be nocturnal, research now suggests that they are simply frequent nappers. They stay in their dens for regular rest times then go out to hunt for food. They are solitary animals, interacting with their own kind only to mate. Their bodies are well suited to their lifestyle. They prefer to crawl along on the ocean floor, but when they need to move quickly, they suck water into their bodies and shoot it out through a special tube, thrusting themselves thought the water. When threatened, they shoot ink at their enemies. This ink can take on the shape of a decoy octopus as it spreads out, confusing other animals. It also affects the enemy's sense of smell, enabling them to get away safely. Octopuses are considered the most intelligent of all the invertebrates. Their major predators are seals, sea lions, and large fish such as lingcod and halibut. They are able to regenerate limbs that are lost to predators.


The female of the Giant Pacific Octopus lays tens of thousands of eggs, like grains of rice on strings, suspended beneath a boulder or in a crevice. The female stands guard over these eggs, aerating them by moving water past them and grooming them with her tentacles, the ends of which are said to have antibacterial properties. During this time she eats little or nothing, and she generally dies when the eggs hatch. Newborn octopuses swim freely for several months, feeding on plankton before settling down.

Wild Diet

Crabs, bivalves, gastropods

Zoo Diet

Shrimp, lobster & crab




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