Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tracking a Travelling Octopus

The Tennessee Aquarium has a new giant Pacific octopus living in the quarantine room. This young lady has had quite an adventure getting to Chattanooga. She was supposed to be shipped from the Pacific Northwest to our keepers, but a clerical error along the way caused her to be re-routed to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Fortunately their keepers had an octopus-proof exhibit available and they were willing to provide temporary housing for this wayward cephalopod. The shot above shows her on exhibit at Riverbanks. According to Jennifer Rawlings, aquarium manager at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, this little octo was quite a handful. "She's feisty and incredibly strong," said Rawlings. "She's much stronger than many of the larger octopuses we've had here in the past!"
She spent nearly a week in Columbia before coming to Chattanooga. According to Tennessee Aquarium senior aquarist Sharyl Crossley, the delay didn't cause her to lose her appetite. This six pound octopus stays healthy as a horse by eating a lot. "In the wild, giant Pacific octopus will feed mostly on crabs and shrimp," said Crossley. "Here we feed our octopus shrimp, crabs, squid, clams and fish. We try to offer them as much variety as we can, but they usually aren't picky eaters."
They are highly intelligent animals and Aquarium guests will learn more about this particular octopus if they choose to take the River Journey Backstage Pass tour offered daily at 11 am. In fact, she'll likely be watching the guests carefully. "She seems to be very curious," said Crossley. "Every morning she is active and watches me walk around when I'm working. I'd say she is both really strong and very inquisitive."
In the wild, these creatures use their intelligence, strength and ability to squeeze into tiny spaces to capture prey. Keepers provide creative puzzles to test the wits of the octos on exhibit. "We usually put their food in toys so they have to work to figure out how to get their food," said Crossley. "In the wild they would have to work to get a crab out of a crack in the rocks. They are really good problem solvers, so we try to keep their minds stimulated through enrichment items."  
 The giant Pacific octopus is native to the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Alaska and down to California. Some of these creatures have an enormous reach, measuring nearly 30 feet when their arms are fully outstretched.

We hope you have a chance to meet the Aquarium's travelling octopus soon.

1 comment:

iffatali said...

I have a good mind not to take Aloysius to Venice. I don't want him to meet a lot of horrid Italian bears and pick up bad habits.
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