The problem solving Octopus

With the Giant Pacific Octopus ‘Pernas’ at S.E.A. Aquarium assisting in choosing the World Cup winners, we thought it only polite to give this clever animal some well-deserved attention.


A relative of slugs and snails; the Octopus is considered one of the smartest invertebrates around.

While intelligence is hard to define even in humans, what we do know, is that Octopuses have the ability to learn quickly and retain this information to use again. They have been known to repeatedly squeeze into fishermen’s crab traps, eat the crabs and get out again!

Pernas the Octopus at S.E.A. Aquarium

Our Octopus “Pernas” is a Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini). This species is typically found in coastal waters of the North Pacific Ocean, along California, Oregon, Washington, BC, Alaska, Russia, northern Japan and Korea.

Giant Pacific Octopuses are often found in areas with rocky boulders and reefs, where they can shelter and make themselves a den. They are the largest of the Octopus species and they can live up to 4 years on average.

They have the largest brain to body size ratio of any invertebrate known to man and have a complex central nervous system with a nerve cord running down the centre of each arm.

Giant Pacific Octopuses have 280 suckers on each arm which they can operate individually. These arms are designed to help the Octopus move across a surface or to catch prey.

Octopus tentacles

How Pernas picked a side for World Cup

Like us, Octopuses can gain and use information they have learned to positively impact their lives.

Pernas the Octopus guess Argentina vs the Netherlands match

To train Pernas to pick a side of her choice, two balls are placed in her habitat. After touching the chosen ball, she is given an additional reward.

We can relate this to the way we learn very easily. If a child decides to join in with a group game, we would praise them for the interacting positively with their playmates. For both the child and Pernas, we reinforce the positive interactive behaviour in the hope that it will be repeated.

Interesting Octopus Facts

Besides its impressive learning abilities, did you know the following interesting facts about Octopus?

Symmetrical: Octopuses are bi-laterally symmetrical meaning they can be divided into mirror image halves- just like humans.

Opportunistic: Octopuses are versatile and can adapt to eat whatever food is available from shrimp, crabs, scallops to small fish and even sharks.

Camouflage: Octopuses are known as ‘chameleons of the sea’ as they can change colour rapidly to adapt to their surroundings.

Circulation: Octopuses have 3 hearts; two pump blood to the gills, the third pumps blood through the body.

Eyes: Octopuses have advanced eyes like mammals or birds, however the pupil is not round but a slit.

Response: Octopuses can move quickly by releasing a jet of water- propelling them away from predators or helping them to catch some fast moving prey.

Octopus eye

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