Giant Pacific Octopus - Enteroctopus dofleini

Giant Pacific Octopus

View all Giant Pacific Octopus Images in the Pacific Marine Index

The Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) grows to an enormous size while only living for a short period of time. It is a master of disguise and is incredibly strong. These creatures are also amazingly mobile and can gracefully stroll along the sea floor or shoot through the water propelled by jetting water through its funnel.

They live to be about four years old, with both males and females dying soon after breeding. Females live long enough to tend fastidiously to their eggs, but they do not eat during the months of the brooding period, usually dying shortly afterward.

Giant Pacific octopuses have huge, bulbous heads and are generally reddish-brown in color. Like the other members of the octopus family, they use special pigment cells in their skin to change colors and textures, and are able to blend in with even the most intricately patterned corals, plants, and rocks.

They tend to hunt at night, surviving primarily on shrimp, clams, lobsters, and fish, but have been known to attack and eat sharks as well as birds, using their sharp, beak-like mouths to puncture and tear flesh. They range throughout the temperate waters of the Pacific, from southern California to Alaska, and west to the Aleutian Islands and Japan.

These highly intelligent creatures, have learned to open jars, mimic other octopuses, and solve mazes. Their population numbers are unknown, and they do not currently appear on any lists of endangered or vulnerable animals. However, they are sensitive to environmental conditions and may be suffering from high pollution levels in their habitats.

These creatures are some of the most sought after by underwater photographers in the Pacific Northwest. They are inquisitive and intelligent, and on some occasions may appear to pose for the camera. Because of their size, shooting Giant Pacific Octopus with a wide-angle lens on a beautiful background is the best way to go. Once one of these animals is out of its den and ready to be photographed, be mindful of your equipment and the strength of these creatures; they will not hesitate to grab onto your camera or regulator and try and take off with it. If anyone hasn't seen the octopus video on YouTube where the octopus takes off with a diver's camera, it's definitely worth checking out. Please understand that these animals can be massive, therefore giving them space is very important. Getting images with colourful backgrounds, sun splashes, or an octopus jetting along the bottom can be very striking. However, if you only have a macro lens at your disposal be sure to get some shots of the Giant Pacific Octopus' eye. The eye is very colourful and can change colour similarly to the rest of the octopus’s body. These creatures are just as susceptible to stress as their smaller cousins, so please be mindful of this and move on if the octopus is lethargic or unable to swim no matter how large they are.