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8 is Enough: Ursula, a Giant Oregon Coast Pacific Octopus, Gets Her Own TV Show

octopus.previewFor five months, the octopus tank at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport sat empty, but that's no longer the case.

Ursula the octopus has made her public debut both in person and online.

Right now, an underwater camera is being used to film the octopus purely for entertainment.  But in the near future, OSU and Sea Grant employees plan on using the device inside classrooms.

Ursula is a female giant pacific octopus that's native to the Oregon Coast.

Similar creatures can grow up to weigh 100 pounds, but the similarity ends there.

Ursula is one-of-a-kind -- a teaching octopus.

"We're going to have school groups tune into those feedings live and they'll be able to ask us questions and then we can answer their questions live," said Becca Schiewe, HMSC Volunteer Coordinator.

It's a new kind of learning experience that employees say will enlighten children who live inland and who can't make it to the coast.

"[It will] encourage kids to learn more about ocean life and ocean animals, and it's just kind of a neat opportunity to see the feedings live," Schiewe said.

It's an opportunity that Gretchin Winde didn't want to miss.

After seeing the octocam online from her home in Coeur d'Alene, Id., she brought her children to see Ursula up close.

"I'm sure they enjoyed it when they fed the octopus, and then also just seeing the color change and seeing it move...and they get first-hand knowledge of something they don't normally see," Winde said.

Her children say they learned a lot, especially while watching Ursula get fed.

"I never knew that it was actually a beak, I thought it was basically a mouth pretty much," said Lily Winde.

If you want to come take a look at Ursula in Newport, the doors are open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or you can always watch the octocam online.

Latin name: Enteroctopus dofleini

cr-octopus-lgThe giant Pacific octopus is a common resident off Oregon's coast. It is a predator that dines on crab, shrimp, crustaceans, shellfish, smaller octopuses, and fish, and can chase its prey by "running" or jetting after prey animals and capturing them with its arms. Then the octopus uses its parrot-like beak, located at the center of its soft body, to deliver a venom that paralyzes and liquefies the meat of animals. An octopus can spend several hours feeding on one crab and will usually remain dormant until finished.

The octopus is known as the most intelligent invertebrate and exhibits clear signs of both curiosity and memory. Octopuses have been observed climbing out of one tank to grab nearby food in another. An octopus can unscrew jars, uncork champagne bottles, and mimic the behavior of a neighboring octopus.

Octopuses live in rocky dens and will defend their territory until it is time to mate. Females lay 50,000 to 70,000 eggs and will care for them until they hatch. A lot of energy goes into reproduction; both adults will die shortly after the hatch.

The territorial nature of this animal makes it nearly impossible to keep more than one in a single tank.

Predators include lingcod, dogfish, seals, sea otters - and humans.

You may be able to watch aquarists feed our octopus, and learn more about its habits, during your visit. Check the feeding schedule.

Hatfield Marine Science CenterHatfield Marine Science Center
Open from 10 am. to 4 pm
2030 Marine Science Drive

As always, admission to the HMSC Visitor Center is by donation.