Good-bye Olivia and thanks for all the fun!

Releasing Olivia

This weekend we released our resident Giant Pacific Octopus ‘Olivia” on the experimental farm just a few 100 metres from where she was collected earlier this summer.   Olivia had been teaching us much about octopus behavior and we were all deeply attached to her.  Although she was well within the size range for healthy care in aquariums we felt that it was time to let her go and start again with a smaller specimen.
Olivia fascinated us all and many staff hours were lost to observing her behaviors.  We all read upon Octopus scientific literature which enabled us to give many impromptu lectures on Octopus biology to fascinated visitors.   Olivia was curious and it was clear that she recognized and responded to the students with the most responsibility with looking after her.  Students who had reason to have their hands in the tank had to cope with curious but gentle tentacles and significant suction of her suckers and Olivia’s habitats of stealing or wrestling away tools and cleaning brushes.

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When presented with prey (typically live crabs) Olivia demonstrated just what a fearsome predator octopus are; making herself bright red and increasing her apparent size considerably and pouncing on live crab with what could only be described as ferocity.  In order to make this more of a contest we took to putting crab in a clear plastic jar with a tightened lid which she mastered quickly.    In one instance she had one arm hanging on to each side of the tank – was exploring her caretakers hand and with the four remaining arms took the jar and unscrewed it within a minute flat before taking her meal to the bottom and going through a typical dark mottled camouflage that was her characteristic feeding coloration.

Giant Pacific Octopus feeding

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFemale Octopus like Olivia may only live two – three years dying after they brood their eggs through hatch. We estimate that Olivia was about breeding size and her return should allow her to breed.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

For more photos of Olivia during her stay please check out this photo set

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We recently received a much smaller octopus that was found hiding out in an oyster tray by a local crew. This new specimen is doing well feeding and immediately curious. It will be moved into Olivia’s old habitat after some tank house cleaning. Our new resident GPO is tentatively named “7.5” as it has lost one arm in a previous injury and it is currently regenerating a new arm. This will be fascinating to watch. Stay tuned!

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