Sometimes called the North Pacific Giant Octopus, The Giant Pacific Octopus lives along the coastal North Pacific region from California to Alaska and even to certain islands of Japan. It is the largest and longest living species of octopus. While most species have a lifespan of approximately two years, the Giant Pacific octopus has an average lifespan of four years. Like other species, they die shortly after breeding, with the female starving herself during the brooding period.
The most distinguishing feature of the Giant Pacific Octopus is its size. The average adult Giant Pacific octopus weighs 33 pounds and has an arm span of 14 feet, although some weigh as much as 100 pounds, and it has even been reported that one specimen weighed as much as 600 pounds, with an arm span of 30 feet.
When at rest, the Giant Pacific Octopus is a reddish-brown color. Like other species of octopus, Giant Pacific Octopus can contract or expand tiny pigments, known as chromatophores, in its cells and change the color of its skin to blend into its environment.
The Giant Pacific octopus feeds mostly on shrimp, crab, abalone, clams, fish, and scallops. There is also evidence to support that these enormous octopuses feed on sharks. To further support the belief that the Giant Pacific Octopus feeds on sharks, consumed shark carcasses have been found in the middens on the octopus.
Highly intelligent creatures, Giant Pacific Octopuses have learned to open jars, mimic other octopuses, and solve mazes in lab tests. 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 range.