Tatoosh in holding tank
Tatoosh, our new giant Pacific octopus in holding behind the scenes.

By John Shakespear

Meet the newest resident of our Northern Waters Gallery, Tatoosh!

Tatoosh comes to the New England Aquarium from the chilly waters off British Columbia. He is named for an island off the coast of Washington state that’s home to a rich ecosystem of marine plants and animals, from otters and sea lions to gray whales and octopuses like him. He is estimated to weigh about 8 lbs. and is around 2 years old.

Before Tatoosh made his public debut on the Olympic Coast Sanctuary exhibit on Tuesday, he spent about a month in a behind-the-scenes tank of his own, acclimating to the Aquarium, getting to know the aquarists, and spending time with our veterinary staff.

Tatoosh in holding tank
Aquarist Bill with new octopus

“When new octopuses come to us, we pass them through a quarantine period to ensure they’re healthy and free of parasites before they go on exhibit,” says Bill Murphy, Senior Aquarist for the Northern Waters Gallery. Since octopuses can remember humans, this period also lets them get comfortable with the aquarists who’ll be feeding them.

“Moving to a new place can be a lot to take in,” Murphy says, “but once they get comfortable with us, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, this guy’s good. He brings me food.’”

Now that Tatoosh has passed his health exams with flying colors, you can come visit him on Level 3! Giant Pacific octopuses can change the color and texture of their skin to blend in with their surroundings, but you’ll be able to spot him by the white suckers on his eight powerful arms.

giant pacific octopus in exhibit