In honor of the passing of Paul the Octopus — the famed creature who correctly predicted the outcome of eight World Cup games — today’s post is a tribute to the octopus, a truly amazing animal. I recently got to view a giant Pacific octopus up close at the Seattle Aquarium, where they keep one regularly on display. (Their life span is about 3-4 years.)
A nocturnal creature, the octopus sits dormant most of the day in this large circular tank. When it’s not hiding, you can get a great view of the tentacles, which are often suctioned to the tank in a vibrant kaleidoscopic display. From the other side, the head hangs from the rest of its body like one big vulger testicle. Hideous yet captivating.
Plan to visit the aquarium around octopus feeding time for the best viewing. Tempted with a few pieces of fish, the eight-legged blob will open up into a gorgeous display of white and orange-pink wonder. The guides at the Seattle Aquarium are quite fun and informative, explaining to the crowd just how each suction cup can both touch and taste food. Also of note: the only hard part of the octopus is its tiny beak, meaning that any octopus can squeeze itself through a hole or crevice so long as it’s as big as its beak.
Their fluidity is even more interesting when you realize how intelligent they are. Giant octopuses have been known to open boxes, unscrew bottle caps, solve mazes, forecast World Cup winners correctly, you name it. In fact, the difficulty in keeping an octopus is their ability to escape from their tank, even secure ones. A few tricksters have even been recorded as having escaped their tanks, climbing to a neighboring tank to gorge on fish, and then sneaking back into their tanks.
In one particular instance at the Seattle Aquarium, a giant octopus was kept in a tank with sharks. They thought the octopus could defend itself from the sharks due to its size. Boy, were they right:
So here’s to you, Paul the Octopus, one crazy cool cephalopod.
Other photos from the Seattle Aquarium: