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The Octopus and the Zombie Sea Stars

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Animal Updates | Invertebrates | Volunteering

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Hugh

The Octopus and the Zombie Sea Stars
The Aquarium of the Pacific's giant Pacific octopus receives its Halloween treat.

Sunflower Stars attempt to steal treats from a Giant Pacific Octopus.

What happens when you give an octopus a Halloween pumpkin filled with tasty treats? Well its lair gets visited by sea star trick-or-treaters.

As an enrichment for the giant Pacific octopus otherwise known affectionately as the GPO, aquarist Angelina gave the big cephalopod a carved Halloween pumpkin with a tasty seafood treat inside. Well the GPO completely enveloped the pumpkin with its arms and carried it back to its little cave at the bottom of the exhibit. In the video that I shot for the Aquarium’s Facebook page it looked like the story ended happily ever after when the octopus retreated into its lair.

But that was just beginning of this Halloween tale. Just like out of a scene from the Walking Dead a horde of Walkers sea stars arrived to invade the GPO’s home. While the octopus was analyzing how to get the crab out of the pumpkin, large sunflower stars started moving towards her lair in an attempt to share in the feast. It reminded me of a scene right out of a TV show with zombie-like creatures slowly approaching the unsuspecting hero. Well when the GPO noticed their approach she decided that she didn’t like the idea of freeloading sea stars getting any of her treats. While the other seven arms were manipulating the pumpkin to get inside, one arm extended out of the cave to push the sunflower stars away. The arm pushing away the stars turned an angry red while the rest of the octopus’s body stayed pale to blend in with the rocks.

Just when it seemed hopeless for our cephalopod hero to save her precious Halloween treats, the sunflower stars suddenly gave up and moved away. The octopus could finally enjoy her treats in peace. Much later when it was done with the treats inside, the GPO pushed the remains of the pumpkin back out of her lair where an aquarist retrieved it later unaware of the drama that had occurred during the Night of the Zombie Sea Stars.

The Octopus and the Zombie Sea Stars
Aquarist Angelina placed a crab inside a Halloween pumpkin as an enrichment for the Giant Pacific Octopus.
The Octopus and the Zombie Sea Stars
The octopus receiving its Halloween treats.
The Octopus and the Zombie Sea Stars
The octopus took the pumpkin down to its cave to enjoy the treats.
The Octopus and the Zombie Sea Stars
While seven of its arms were figuring out how to get to the crab inside the pumpkin the eighth arm was busy pushing away the Sunflower Stars that were attempting to horn in on the treats. Notice that the eighth arm is a different color that the rest of the octopus.

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