Community Papers

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney is up in arms

A new male octopus has replaced Hermoine, which was released into the Saanich Inlet. - Bob Orchard
A new male octopus has replaced Hermoine, which was released into the Saanich Inlet.
— image credit: Bob Orchard

SIDNEY — The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre (SODC) welcomed a new giant pacific octopus after releasing his predecessor, Hermoine, back to her home in the Saanich Inlet.

Keeping with a six month release policy, the aquarium has featured almost a dozen giant pacific octopuses since opening in 2009. Having bi-annual turnover ensures that the short life spans of these creatures are spent primarily in the wild.

“Giant pacific octopuses only live an average of four to five years,” said Aquarist Sarah Friessen, “so it’s important to us that they spend most of that time in the ocean.”

Also central to the aquarium’s philosophy is the educational component of having an octopus on display. During its six month stay, upwards of 50,000 people get the chance to see the otherwise elusive creature.

Aquarium guests observe remarkable behaviours, including the act of opening jars to retrieve food as they’re taught when they first arrive.

There is still much that remains unknown about octopuses; they’re solitary animals with extremely sophisticated camouflaging abilities, making them difficult to study in the ocean. The aquarium believes this makes their exhibit that much more valuable.

“People can’t help but be amazed at the diversity of skills and traits they exhibit,” said SODC Marketing Manager, Christina Smethurst. “It gives our visitors an appreciation for these animals that they might not have otherwise had.”

For more information, visit www.oceandiscovery.ca.

— Submitted by SODC

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