Giant Octopus Comes to Smithsonian's National Zoo

A giant pacific octopus swimming in blue water.

Stuart Westmorland / Getty Images

While it may seem small now, at only about 3 pounds, this guy will grow to about 13 times its current size. It's the Giant Pacific octopus and the National Zoo welcomed the first one of its kind last month. With an expected arm span of 25 feet, this mega octopus evokes memories of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
This January, Smithsonian's National Zoo welcomed its first Giant Pacific octopus, a male, which will be named this month. Researchers are thrilled to learn more about this truly unusual species that can weigh hundreds of pounds when found in the wild. They start out as tiny eggs the size of rice pellets, but as adults this relative of the squid becomes a colossal species. Can you imagine if you ran into one of these scuba diving in the Pacific?

"The new octopus will help us continue to excite people about invertebrates, which make up more than 95 percent of the animal kingdom," said Alan Peters, the Zoo's curator of invertebrates. "The giant Pacific octopus is the 'giant panda' of invertebrates--it may get the most attention, but we can use it to lure visitors into a world of incredible insects, spiders, corals and so much more."

This is the largest species of octopus in the world. While story tellers like to peg the largest octopus ever as reaching about 30 feet and weighing over 600 pounds, a more realistic record would be more like 400 pounds with an arm span of about 25 feet. This species of octopus is usually found at depths of about 2,500 feet. It's found off the coast of California, Japan, and the Aleutian Islands. It feeds on crabs, clams, snails, and small fish.

Follow the octopus' incredible growth by watching it on the octopus cam.