Get ready to be wrapped up in Tentacles! Look for the giant Pacific octopus in its brand new expanded habitat brimming with animals from the Pacific Northwest. Watch octopus kin, cuttlefish and red octopuses, change colors before your eyes. From graceful sea jellies to clever cephalopods, dive into the dazzling diversity of these mysterious ocean animals as Tentacles take hold at the New England Aquarium!
Tentacles of All Types
The oceans are teeming with tentacled animals — large and small, brainless and clever. Some use their tentacles to explore their environment through taste and smell. Some animals have tentacles equipped with microscopic darts capable of paralyzing tiny plankton (and delivering quite a sting to humans!). And still others use their tentacles as lightning-fast grippers to nab a large meal on the move.
Let’s dive in to the dazzling diversity of the tentacled ocean animals that you’ll meet at the Aquarium!
Giant Pacific Octopus
With an arm span stretching up to 10 feet across or even more, the giant Pacific is the planet’s largest species of octopus. At the Aquarium, these octopus are a favorite of visitors and aquarists alike. They have been known to solve puzzles when a tasty crab snack is on the line. An octopus named Athena even inspired a national bestselling book! And this year, the octopus is on display in its newly renovated Olympic Coast exhibit on Level 3, which is brimming with species found in the Pacific Northwest.
Learn more about the giant Pacific octopus at the Aquarium through these blog posts:
Cuttlefish are cephalopods, just like octopuses. However, these invertebrates are characterized by an internal structure called a cuttlebone. It is porous and made of aragonite, a polymorph of calcium carbonate. Each species’ cuttlebone has a distinct shape, size, and pattern, but they all serve the same purpose: buoyancy control.
Get to know some of the different species of cuttlefish that you might find at the Aquarium.
It’s called a chambered nautilus because it’s born with four internally connected chambers that it adds to as it grows. Over its estimated 20-year lifespan, these nautilus can develop 30 or more chambers, all spun in a perfect logarithmic spiral. The nautilus is 500 million years old, earning it the nickname “living fossil.”
At the Aquarium, visitors will notice that these animals are kept in a dim exhibit. Nautilus have poor eyesight compared to their cuttlefish and octopus cousins. Scientists believe these animals use smell to find food. Let your own eyes adjust to the red lights in the exhibit and watch these shelled cephalopds glide about using jet propulsion through their siphon. Look for the nautilus’s 90 tentacles bristling out of its shell. Unlike other cephalopods, these tentacles have no suckers. However, ridges and grooves along these tentacles help the nautilus grip its prey.
Study up on chambered nautilus on the blog.
While its common name is red octopus, this species (like most octopuses) are masters of disguise and can change color in a blink from yellow, white, or brown to a mottled combination to match the ocean floor. They rely on camouflage to surprise prey and for protection from predators. Octopuses have three hearts, one to pump blood throughout its body, the other two that send blood over the gills. Without an internal or external skeleton, an octopus can flow its pliable body through openings as small as the diameter of its hard beak.
Pacific Sea Nettle
Wrap your head around this: sea jellies have no brains! They don’t have bones, hearts or blood either, but sea nettles do have about two dozen tentacles around their bell. Each is covered in spring-loaded stinging darts used to paralyze their prey. Don’t worry, humans, the sea nettle’s sting generally isn’t harmful to people.
Learn more the jelly life cycle on the blogs: