The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma has a new resident: a 32-pound female giant Pacific octopus.
For the next week, the Pacific Seas Aquarium is holding a poll asking people to vote on her name. The six options are:
- Gertie: Chosen for the collapsed Tacoma Narrows Bridge nicknamed Galloping Gertie. The bridge collapse also gave birth to a myth of an octopus living in the underwater ruins.
- Narrows: Another nickname for the two bridges that connect Tacoma to Gig Harbor.
- Ceph: Short for cephalopod, which includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
- Ms. 8: A nod toward kids, who often like to count octopus tentacles, said Marcus Duncan, assistant curator of aquariums at Point Defiance.
- Octavia: Picked as the name has the Latin prefix for eight.
- Ophelia: Included because octopuses tend to have names that start with the letter “O.”
The poll will be open through Monday and the winning name will be announced Aug. 24. Cast your vote at pdza.org/name-our-new-octopus/.
The octopus was collected from Puget Sound, and Duncan estimates that she is around 2 years old.
When the aquarium looks to collect a new octopus, it searches for a juvenile, between the size of a grapefruit and a soccer ball.
This octopus will be with the aquarium for the rest of her life. The giant Pacific octopus has an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years.
“She’s very curious, but in a reserved fashion,” Duncan said.
That is typical behavior for a female octopus, he said. Males tend to be “gregarious” right away.
The octopus has been with the aquarium for just over three weeks and has been slowly acclimating to her surroundings and the aquarium staff, he said. Staff members have been carefully raising the brightness in her enclosure, figuring out her favorite foods and introducing her to the laundry basket that they will use to weigh her.
Octopuses are most comfortable in the caves and ledges of enclosures, but recently this one has started to venture outward more frequently.
Octopuses have neurons through their tentacles and can taste through their suction cups. While octopuses might like the taste of some staff members and dislike others, Duncan said that so far, this one has liked everyone.