The Giant Northern Pacific is one of the largest octopus species in the world, living in rocky habitats along the coast from the intertidal zone to depths of more than 100 metres. Adults usually weight about 33 pounds (15 kg) with an arm span of 14 feet (4.3 m). In Canada and the United States, there is a small targeted dive and trap fishery for this species.
Octopus can change colour from a mottled white to a deep red and brown in one-tenth of a second. They can also change shape, allowing them to camouflage themselves to attack prey such as crab and prawns or hide from predators. Octopus meat is white, fibrous and chewy and is tenderized by slow cooking.
The Giant Pacific Northern Octopus is primarily a nocturnal predator that feed on crabs, prawns and a variety of other shellfish and small fish. It has a beak set in the apex of its arms that resembles a parrot’s beak and can crush hard shells. During breeding, the male fertilizes the female which then searches for a safe lair in which to lay her eggs. The female typically finds a cave with a small opening and constantly guards her eggs. She lives off the fats and proteins of her own body, and ultimately dies of starvation. The young octopi then float in the water and descend to the seafloor when they reach a certain size. They mature in about two to three years at a size of 12 kg for males and 20 kg for females.
This fishery uses traps attached to a bottom longline to catch spot prawns. The traps are set from 200 to 300 feet (55 to 90 metres) deep along the ocean’s rocky bottom. The traps attract spot prawns with bait and capture them live.