Landon Williams, 8, of Lakewood watches a young giant Pacific octopus in its tank on Thursday at Feiro Marine Life Center at Port Angeles City Pier. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Landon Williams, 8, of Lakewood watches a young giant Pacific octopus in its tank on Thursday at Feiro Marine Life Center at Port Angeles City Pier. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Feiro gains a giant Pacific octopus

Unnamed addition first in five years

PORT ANGELES — After five years with a mostly empty tank, Feiro Marine Life Center now has a giant Pacific octopus to dazzle visitors to the aquarium at Port Angeles City Pier.

That is, when creature decides to show itself.

The yet-unnamed young giant Pacific octopus spends much of its time huddled against a rock in the corner of its tank, taking occasional swims for fun or for food, usually dining on shrimp, herring or — its favorite meal — live crab, fed to it by Feiro staff members.

The marine science center is keeping the tank room dim until the mollusc becomes accustomed to its surroundings.

Tamara Galvin, Feiro facilities director, said the octopus was collected at the end of June, but the center hasn’t made a big production out of what will undoubtedly become a star attraction.

And in fact, Feiro staff are still uncertain of the creature’s gender.

“I’m leaning towards female, but unfortunately, the arm we need to see in order to determine gender, she keeps curled up and it actually looks like it may have had a slight injury,” Galvin said. “But I keep going back and forth on what I think.”

The creature was found by members of a family who is included on the center’s wildlife collection permit. It was located during a fishing excursion to Agate Bay west of Salt Creek Recreation Area north of Joyce.

The juvenile creature currently weighs about 2 pounds. Galvin said the aquarium will keep the octopus until it reaches about 40 pounds, when it will be released near where it was found, perhaps in about a year or so.

While Feiro has been without a giant Pacific, the lab has had several examples of the much smaller ruby octopus on display from time to time, including one that gave birth in captivity. But the offspring quickly returned to open water through the aquarium’s open-flow water circulation system and the semelparous parent died soon after giving birth.

Feiro guest services specialist Disa Wilson said that the new octopus had already drawn a great deal of attention from aquarium visitors.

“They’ve been really excited about it since it’s been a long time since we’ve had a giant Pacific octopus,” Wilson said. “They ask, ‘How old is she? How long are we going to keep her?’ Stuff like that.”

Galvin said the Feiro staff was considering holding a naming poll, giving visitors an opportunity to vote for their favorite moniker through the lab’s Facebook page. No candidate names have been selected as of yet.

The center’s last giant Pacific was named Oceania, selected through a similar online poll. Other previous octopuses had been called Obeka and Ursula.

Regardless of name — or the lack thereof — the newest Feiro acquisition has piqued the interest of Feiro guests, Galvin said.

“I think a lot people come in hoping to see an octopus,” Galvin said. “We’ve definitely got some good videos and footage of octopuses we’ve had in the past, but it’s always a little different when visitors get to see an octopus with their own eyes.”

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Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at kthorpe@peninsuladailynews.com.

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