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Slinking Octopus Filmed in Yaquina Head Tidepool, Central Oregon Coast

Published 02/18/23 at 4:19 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Slinking Octopus Filmed in Yaquina Head Tidepool, Central Oregon Coast

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(Newport, Oregon) – A bit of a surprise popped up for one Oregon coast employee of the Bureau of Land Management this week as an octopus crossed his path, making a bit of a “splash,” you could say. (Photo courtesy Luke Smith, BLM)

Luke Smith works for the arm of the BLM that oversees Newport's Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Wandering around the tidepools, he discovered a giant Pacific octopus slinking around the big grooves. You don't normally see them in tidepools, though it can happen on occasion. Smith said it occurs a few times a year at Yaquina Head.

So this called for a bit of filming, and Smith caught it doing something extraordinary.

The Giant Pacific Octopus

Release the kraken! 🐙 A giant Pacific octopus is making its way through the Yaquina Head tidepools in Oregon. This amazing creature is spotted at this locale only a few times a year, though they probably visit more often. The highly intelligent octopus is a master of disguise and can adapt to its environment by changing its skin color and texture, as seen near this video's end. While the octopus in this video seems large, it’s actually quite small. The giant Pacific octopus can grow as large as 16 feet long. Video by Luke Smith / Bureau of Land Management ALT TEXT: a video of a large red octopus swimming in the tidepools.

Posted by U.S. Department of the Interior on Tuesday, February 14, 2023

It changed colors near the end – something this species usually just does in the wilds of the deeper ocean. This happens near the end of the video, as it slinks its way through the shallow water and arrives at one end of the little channel, shifting to a deeper, darker purple.

They do this to hide from predators or to engage is some hunting themselves, adapting to their environment. They can change from darker colors to white, according to Seaside Aquarium, which frequently has giant Pacific octopuses in one of their tanks and on full display.

“An adult giant can weigh more than 70 pounds,” said the aquarium's Tiffany Boothe.

This particular giant Pacific octopus wasn't very large, said the BLM, but they can get up to 20 feet worth of arm span.

A giant Pacific octopus at the Hatfield Marine Science Center

All of the major aquariums on the Oregon coast and Washington coast have one kind of octopus or another, usually the giant Pacific Octopus. The Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport has an octo cam, which you can watch anytime, and they show up at Westport Aquarium in Washington, Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Charleston Marine Life Center on the south Oregon coast.

One thing each of these facilities have in common with the giant Pacific octopus is that they get released after awhile, usually roughly 9 months. This species doesn't live very long, about three to four years, so since a female dies after she mates, they let her go to have a fuller life near the end. With male octopuses, it's when they start to show signs of old age (often a white around the eyes).

So, yes, you can see them on just most visits to the coastline and you don't have to wait for a encounter in the wild like this one.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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Keywords: Oregon coast, giant Pacific octopus, octopus marine science, Oregon Coast Beach Connection