Today, a crabber in the San Francisco Bay area spotted a Giant Pacific Octopus caught up in his nets. A true testament to its name, the octopus weighed in at over 80 pounds.
Because the den-like crabbing enclosures seem like a good spot for hiding and hunting, octopii are often accidentally trapped this way. If the octopus kills and eats the crabber’s catch, many fishermen respond by killing the octopus.
Aquarium of the Bay works with local fishermen to change this behavior by purchasing the octopuses for its near-shore tunnel exhibit, where they help strengthen visitors’ connection to the animals.
The Aquarium’s Husbandry team posts fliers around local piers and tackle stores, alerting crabbers of this opportunity, and were happy when the fruits of their labor paid off today, allowing them to rescue the newest octopus. Today’s octopus was the third to be rescued by the Aquarium this way.
Giant Pacific Octopuses are professionals at the art of disguise and can change color within a fraction of a second, by stretching or squeezing their skin, which contains millions of elastic cells with colored pigments.
The animals are also terminal spawners, meaning females only have one opportunity to reproduce. They typically mate closer to the end of their fairly short lifespan, which on average is only five years. Luckily, octopuses lay anywhere from 18,000 – 74,000 eggs, helping to strengthen the vitality of the species.
Image Credit: Flickr - Ed Bierman