My senior project provides a unique opportunity to keep a potential cryptic species of octopus in the aquarium lab, and to allow Calamity a chance to mature and breed in the wild, while maintaining professional standards of octopus care in the APU aquarium lab.
Calamity is a female octopus which has called the aquarium lab home for a little over one year. During this time, she has grown considerably. Calamity scheduled for release Sunday November 11th. The release of a captive octopus into Prince William Sound has been reviewed by the University IRB and approved by permit from Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
Aquariums throughout the nation regularly release octopuses they have had in their care after the octopus has grown in captivity. This gives the octopus the chance to live out its natural life cycle, maturing, and breeding in the wild. This procedure was pioneered at the Seattle Aquarium, has become a standard of care in the aquarium industry, and is done routinely at the Alaska Sealife center, Seattle Aquarium, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other locations.
I also collected octopuses for my senior project this Fall. One of the individuals I collected is also scheduled for release Sunday November 11th into Smitty’s Cove, Whittier Alaska after three weeks in captivity.
With a group of experienced divers and octopus care takers Calamity and one other octopus will be released in 30 – 40ft of water. Divers will guide each octopus into a safe den in which they may hide, recover from the stress of transport and adjust to their new environment. Whittier provides a passage to Prince William Sound where both octopuses were captured. Smitty’s Cove is a popular dive site where octopuses are commonly found, indicating suitable octopus habitat there. The site is frequented by many APU divers. Octopuses released will be monitored for residency within Smitty’s Cove. Seattle Aquarium has been able to observe that released octopuses typically feed well immediately after release, may reside for some time in the release area, and many go on to reproduce successfully.