GIANT OCTOPUS (Enteroctopus dofleini)
Pronounced: En-ter-oct-u-pus dof-leen-ee Order: Octopoda
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Octopodidae
Phylum: Mollusca Genus: Enteroctopus
Class: Cephalopoda Species: Dofleini


The largest Giant Octopus ever found was 30 ft (9 m) across and 600 pounds (272 kg), but they’re not usually quite that big. In fact, the average size is less than half of this record. That’s still big enough to be one of the Masters of the Deep. They usually eat shrimp, fish, clams and lobsters, but occasionally also eat sharks. Their big heads contain intelligent brains – this animal has solved mazes and opened jars in lab tests.

Giant Octopi inhabit the oceans from Alaska to Southern California, west to Japan and the Aleutian Islands. These moderate to cold waters allow this octopus to grow larger than its cousins in warmer tropical waters.

Like all octopi, The Giant has eight arms – it also has two rows of suckers on each arm, for a total of about 1,600. Suckers are used for holding onto rocks and coral, and for smelling (yes, they can detect scents with them). They also use their suckers for catching and holding prey. An octopus has no bones, only cartilaginous material in its beak, but it has three hearts!

Poison bite, instant color change, ink, and siphon jet propulsion are all enviable characteristics that this creature uses to attack and defend itself.

Giant Octopi live for 3 – 4 years in the wild. A mother Giant will have only one brood of young in her lifetime. She makes a den near rocks more than 15 metres underwater. When she’s ready to lay her eggs, she crawls inside and seals off the entrance. One by one she lays her eggs and strings them together in masses, then attaches them to the roof of the den. She could have more than 50,000 eggs and protects them for up to 6 months, until they hatch. During this time, she doesn’t eat, and when they hatch, she helps them out of their egg cases, opens the cave to let them out, then dies. The young, called paralarvae, swim to the surface, where they will live by eating small zooplankton and other animals for many weeks. When large enough, they will swim to the bottom of the ocean and begin eating bigger prey. At about 3 years old, they will mate.

Only large fish, sharks, sperm whales, sea otter, seals, sea lions, and dolphins are predators of the Giant Octopus when it is fully grown, but many other marine predators eat the youngsters before they are mature.


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