Monday, July 24, 2000

Aquarium's giant Pacific octopus dies

As in wild, death inevitable after she laid eggs

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — One of the big attractions at the Newport Aquarium — a 2-year-old giant Pacific octopus — died Sunday.

        “The entire staff is saddened by the loss, but everybody also understands that this is part of nature,” aquarium spokeswoman Lisa Po pyk said Sunday.

The Newport Aquarium's giant Pacific octopus died Sunday.
(File photo)
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        The 5-foot-long, 35-pound adult female octopus's natural body clock began winding down about three weeks ago after she laid a dozen eggs.The octopus went on display in November.

        It is a natural process for a female octopus to lay eggs when she reaches adulthood, but the instinctive act always leads to her death as she expends all her energy caring for the eggs.

        The octopus eggs will not hatch because the aquarium does not have a male octopus to fertilize them.

        “We did not have a second, male octopus because in captivity, as in the wild, octopi cannot live together,” Ms. Popyk said. “They are an extremely territorial animal and one will ultimately kill the other if they are forced to share space.”

        The aquarium has already acquired a new, 5-month-old octopus that will be exhibited beginning later this week.

        Native to the cold Pacific Ocean waters from Alaska to northern California, the giant Pacific octopus normally grows to about 16 feet from head to the tip of tentacles and weighs about 100 pounds. But they can be large as 30 feet and 600 pounds.

        It eats shrimp abalone, scallops, clams, fish and even smaller octopods.

        The Newport Aquarium is a million-gallon facility with 11,000 animals and 60 exhibits.


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