Species and Habitat Outlines

Giant Pacific Octopus

Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family: Octopodidae



Distribution: in rocky areas throughout B.C. coast.

Habitat: establish dens in caves or rocky areas, or smaller individuals may dig dens in sand-shell substrates; inhabits deep water from February-April and August-October; females brood eggs on roof of dens; planktonic larvae until 50 mm length, then remain benthic.

Tidal elevation: subtidal, to a depth of over 100 m; inshore dens usually from 13-30 m.

Food: nocturnal predator; larvae feed on copepods and other zooplankton; juveniles and adults prey on crabs, cockle, littleneck clams, abalone, moon snails and small fish.

Predators: seals, sea lions, sea otters, dogfish, lingcod, flatfish and larger octopuses.


Sexually mature at 2-3 yr, males after 12 kg and females after 20 kg; at 1 yr weighs 1 kg and 12 kg after 1.5 yr.


Small commercial fishery (53 t in 1986 valued at $0.1 million.)


Hartwick, B. 1983. Octopus dofleini, p. 277-291. In P. Boyle [ed.] Cephalopod life cycles. Vol.1. Academic Press, London.

Hartwick, E.B., and G. Thorarinsson. 1978. Den associates of the giant Pacific octopus, Octopus dofleini (Wulker). Ophelia 17: 163-166.

Hartwick, E.B., R.F. Ambrose, and S.M.C. Robinson.1984. Dynamics of shallow-water populations of Octopus dofleini. Mar. Biol. 82: 65-72.

Hartwick, E.B., P.A. Breen, and L. Tulloch. 1978. A removal experiment with Octopus dofleini (Wulker). J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 35: 1492-1495.

Jamieson, G.S. 1986. Octopus, p. 46-50. In G.S. Jamieson and K. Francis [ed.] Invertebrate and marine plant fishery resources of British Columbia. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 91.

Mottet, M.G. 1975. The fishery biology of Octopus dofleini (Wulker). Wash. Dep. Fish. Tech. Rep. 16: 39 p.

Robinson, S.M.C. 1983. Growth of the giant Pacific octopus Octopus dofleini martini on the west coast of British Columbia. M.Sc. thesis, Dep. Biol. Sci., Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby: 79 p.

Robinson, S.M.C., and E.B. Hartwick. 1986. Analysis of growth based on tag-recapture of the giant Pacific octopus Octopus dofleini martini. J. Zool. Lond. (A) 209: 559-572.


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