Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Giant Pacific Octopus


       I have this fascination with octopuses. At first I wanted to talk about how they have four hearts, nine brains,  and blue blood. Two of their hearts pump blood to the gills while the other heart circulates blood to the rest of the body. They have a central brain and a large ganglion at the base of each arm that controls movement, which is why there are nine brains. As for the blue blood, it contains a copper-rich protein called hemocyanin that is more efficient than the hemoglobin we have to carry oxygen at low temperatures and low oxygen concentrations. All of this is very interesting, but during my research I cam across this species of octopus known as the giant Pacific octopus that was even more interesting.

       The giant Pacific octopus grows bigger and lives longer than any other species of octopus. The average size is 16 feet across and 110 pounds, but the record size is 30 feet across and over 600 pounds! I mentioned in a discussion post a little while back that both male and female octopuses die shortly after breeding. The same goes for this species and the average lifespan is about four years old. Females actually don't eat while they are tending to their eggs (brooding), which is months long and die soon afterwards.

 Giant Pacific octopuses have very large bulbous heads that are normally reddish brown in color. They can use special pigment cells found in their skin to change colors and textures to blend in to their surroundings, like chameleons. This is a common characteristic for all octopuses. They usually feed on organisms like shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and fish but due to their large size they have been known to attack sharks. They have sharp beak-like mouths used to tear into flesh. They are nocturnal, so they do all of their hunting at night. They range throughout the Pacific ocean from California to Alaska and west to the Aleutian Islands and Japan. Their population numbers are unknown at this time, but they aren't currently on the endangered species lists. The giant Pacific octopus may not be endangered now, but they are very sensitive to environmental conditions and pollution always poses a threat to these creatures. 

Map: Giant pacific octopus range

                     Giant Pacific Octopus Range=yellow


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