We say farewell to a Living Coasts favourite and give you the chance to name her successor…

We lost our octopus, Octavia, in July at the grand old age (for an octopus) of just over three years. 
She was a common octopus with an uncommon character. Aquarist Sam Worthington explains: “In the wild an octopus will usually live to roughly between 12-24 months - a very short lifespan - but in captivity it is often around two years old. They can live a lot longer, like Octavia, if they have the care and facilities to give them a better quality of life – and a constant food supply!” 

Octavia will be missed by staff, students, volunteers and guests. She could disappear among the rocks or spread herself across the glass – you never knew if you’d see her, though she’d probably always see you…

She seemed to enjoy her regular enrichment activities, designed by her keepers to mimic and encourage natural behaviours. Sam: “Octavia was very energetic, always playing and interacting with the keepers. She was very intelligent, great at figuring out her puzzles. Her favourite enrichment was plastic tubing - keepers would put fish inside and then put caps on each end and she had to work out how to get the food out.”

Our new octopus is, like Octavia, a common octopus (Octopus vulgaris). At only a few months old, it is much smaller than Octavia and we won’t be able to tell if it is a male or a female until it reaches maturity at around 6-8 months. It has come to us from France and has now settled into its new home. 

Sam again: “We will care for this one in the same way as Octavia, as her husbandry programme resulted in a healthy and contented animal and we would obviously like the same result for the new octopus. We will continue an enrichment programme, providing it with different food scenarios and presentations, spaces and tubes for it to hide and explore, watering cans for stimulation and toys to put its intelligence to full use, keeping it busy.”

All of our keepers enjoy working with the large variety of species in our aquarium - but working with an octopus is a firm favourite, as Sam explains: “The thing I love most about working with an octopus is the interaction. You can watch the thought processes as they work out how to open a jar or complete a puzzle to retrieve food – it’s incredible. Watching them change colour and texture to blend into their surroundings is fascinating!”

Because we don’t yet know the sex of this new octopus, choosing suitable names has been quite tricky. Our keepers have come up with four suggestions: Kraken, Inky, Ozzy and Ringo. You will be able to vote for your favourite over on our Facebook page in the next few days.


If you want to know more about this amazing species, come along to our octopus talk daily at 5:00pm. Feeding takes place on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the same time.


Did you know?

  • An octopus can paralyse its prey with venomous saliva
  • A common octopus will lay between 100,000 and 500,000 eggs but only 1 or 2 will hatch and survive to adulthood
  • To help them hide from predators, the common octopus can camouflage itself by changing the colours and patterns of its skin
  • An octopus can regrow a lost arm with no permanent damage
  • To help them escape from predators, an octopus can release a cloud of black ink. This also helps them to disorientate their prey


Quotes The presenter talks were great, we learnt a lot about the animals here. Quotes