Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Red

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Cephalopoda

Order: Octopoda

Family: Octopodidae

This lovely guy is a giant pacific octopus, Enteroctopus dofleini. They are found along the pacific coast from Alaska to southern California, and prefer to live in rocky crevices from the subtidal to 1650 ft (503 m). They are nocturnal and feed on crabs, shrimp, bivalves (such as clams and scallops), and fish.

They live for about 3 to 4 years, which is a little longer than your average octopus who only lives about 3 years max. They generally reach a size of 16 ft (5 m) from arm to arm, and weight about 90 to 100 lbs (45 kg). They can change the color and texture of their skin to match their surroundings.

They are extremely intelligent and there are many stories surrounding this intelligence. One of the more common stories is that they can escape from their tanks and go to other tanks for a midnight snack, if the mood takes them. They can come out of the water, and are great escape artists, so it is very plausible that this story is true. At the aquarium where I used to work (where this picture was shot), the octopus were kept in a very large tunnel tank about 150 ft (46 m) long. It was a pretty cool experience, because the octopus had enough room to actually swim the length of the tank. Also, I often ran sleepovers in the tunnels, so got to see the octopus walking around the tanks at night.

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