Seattle Aquarium recently celebrated its annual Octopus Week. A week celebrating Puget Sound's premier octopus species: the Giant Pacific Octopus. The Giant Pacific Octopus is one of the largest and smartest species of octopus in the world and can be found in our own backyard (or, in this case, backocean).
Before the advent of Octopus Week, the aquarium had another tradition: an octopus "blind date," most poetically on Valentine's Day, in which the barrier that separated the male, Ivar, and the female, K2, was removed and the two octopuses met each other for the first time. Before that time they could smell each other as the water currents flowed through their respective parts in the tank. Biologist were on hand just in case the situation didn't go so lovingly, but they weren't needed, as love was in the air — er, water.
The Saturday after the blind date, K2, as most octopuses at the Seattle Aquarium, was returned to Puget Sound with much fanfare. Visitors watched from the pier and within the aquarium, which was fed video of the event by various monitors, as staff and biologists slowly transported K2 back to her natural habitat right under the pier that aquarium sits on.
The week following the first release saw aquarium staff swim with another resident male, Homer, in the Window on Washington Waters, as well as various stations for visitors to learn more about Washington's own cephalopod with a lot of activities both for adults and kids.
Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium not only puts the spotlight on one of Seattle's most loved animals but also on the conservation efforts by the aquarium. Giant Pacific Octopuses are only one of the many species that are part of the Seattle Aquarium Research Center for Conservation and Husbandry or SEARCCH, the aquarium's informal research structure.
Want to support the Seattle Aquarium and its conservation efforts? Take a visit. It's open 364 days a year. Check out the website for more information. Also register for one or all of the "Sound Conservations" — a series of lectures on the topic of the health of world oceans and marine life. The talks and dates are as follows:
— March 3, Kristin L. Laidre, Ph.D.: Arctic Marine Mammals and Climate Change
— April 7, Mark Schrader, Captain & Project Director — Around the Americas
— May 5, Daniel Beltrá featuring Gary Chittim: SPILL — Images from the Gulf
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