Eight little facts about the giant Pacific octopus

To celebrate World Octopus Day on Oct. 8, here are eight facts about this beloved eight-armed sea creature.

Underside of giant Pacific octopus, revealing suckers on its eight tentacles
(c) Kondratuk Aleksei

1. The giant Pacific octopus is the largest species of octopus in the world
Adult giant Pacific octopuses typically weigh about 50 kilograms and are nearly 5 metres across while the largest ever recorded was 270 kilograms and 9 metres across. (Compare that to the common octopus which average 30 to 90 centimeters and weigh 3 to 10 kilograms.)

2. Giant Pacific octopuses are highly intelligent
In laboratory tests they’ve completed complicated tasks like solving mazes and opening jars with their eight arms.

3. They’re named after the ocean they’re found in
Spread throughout the coastal northern temperate regions of their namesake ocean — from B.C. and California to Japan — the giant Pacific octopus can be found more than 100 metres underwater where they seek security in small caves to stay safe from predators.

4. Giant Pacific octopuses are carnivores
They hunt at night, using venom to paralyze their prey — clams, shrimp, lobsters and small fish — before cracking open shells and tearing through flesh with their sharp beaks.

Giant Pacific octopus
(c) Kondratuk-Aleksei

5. They have many defense mechanisms
Giant Pacific octopuses are prey themselves for seals, sea otters, sharks and large fish like tuna. To evade these predators, they can spray black ink, squeeze into small spaces, and quickly expel water to jet away.

6. A master of disguise
This sneaky sea creature can hide from any predator in one-tenth of a second by coordinating changes in its skin texture and colour to mimic its surroundings.

7. Its oceanic habitat is threatened
The giant Pacific octopus is facing mounting threats, including climate change and pollution.

8. Giant Pacific octopuses use suction cups to taste and smell
This octopus’ eight arms have about 2,240 suction cups, each with more taste receptors than the human tongue (!) and they can be individually controlled.

Symbolically adopt a giant Pacific octopus

Octopus adoption kit with poster, adoption certificate and reusable tote bag

WWF-Canada’s family of adoptable species are designed with the help of our species expert to incorporate unique features and markings found in nature. Though they can change colour, our giant octopus plush is a typical reddish pink. It also has suckers on the undersides of its eight arms, which octopuses use to taste, smell, and grip objects.

With your symbolic adoption, you’re helping WWF-Canada secure the long-term survival of the giant Pacific octopus and other at-risk species.