One of about eight species of octopus found in Alaska, the Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest octopus species in the world. It is the most-often encountered octopus species in Alaska. The Giant Pacific can be pale grey to dark red depending on the use of the layered chromatophores (pigment cells) that enable it to change color. Like many octopus species E. dofleini also has the ability to change the texture of its skin allowing it to blend into structural components of the environment. The octopus has a bulbous mantle where most of its organs are located. Their parrot-like beak is made of keratin and is the only hard part of their body. An octopus can squeeze through any hole large enough to accommodate its beak – A 50-pound octopus can fit through a two-inch hole. Octopus ink is a sepia color and is used as a defense mechanism. When threatened, E. dofleini, release a jet of ink into the water creating a screen of ink to confuse and limit their predators’ view.
The Giant Pacific Octopus weighs 22 to 110 pounds (avg. 45-65 pounds). A 156-pound animal was recorded by Canadian researchers. They have a relatively short lifespan and achieve this weight in about five years. The adult octopus arm length can span up to 16 feet (note they are called arms, not tentacles). The suction discs on the arms are quite effective and octopus have been able to unscrew the lids of jars – from inside the jar.