West Coasters decided to stave off the Decepticons and name the Ucluelet aquarium’s newest Giant Pacific Octopus ‘Octopus Prime.’
Octopus Prime replaced Polly who was released to much fan fare over the Ukee Days weekend.
Polly had been named by Salty Dog Fishing Charters who had brought her to the aquarium and Polly’s predecessor was named Jacqtopus after Jacque Cousteau by aquarium staff.
Octopus Prime is the first octopus to be named by a public vote and the aquarium’s communications coordinator Jessie Fletcher was stoked on the public’s response.
“The community was super engaged, we were extraordinarily overwhelmed,” she said. “People were coming down specifically to submit their names for our octopus.”
Locals submitted over 300 namenominations and aquarium staff widdled these down to three finalists for online voters to pick from: Octopus Prime, George Stroumbouloctopus, and Mr. Big Head. Octopus Prime beat out George
Stroumbouloctopus-after popular CBC personality and former MuchMusic VJ George Stroumboulopoulos- by just 14 votes with Mr. Big Head finishing a distant third.
Octopus Prime weighs in at about 4 kilograms and will likely be released back into the wild in about four months triple the size.
The aquarium hosts three to five octopuses each year as part of its catch and release program as the animals can grow rapidly.
Octopus Prime’s predecessor Polly arrived at the aquarium in May weighing about 5 kg and was up to 16 g when she was released about three months later, according to Fletcher.
She said Giant Pacific Octopuses can grow as huge as 270 kilograms.
The animal is a key feature at Ucluelet’s Aquarium and a “big time” draw for tourists and locals, according to Fletcher.
“The octopus is probably our public’s favourite animal,” she said. “Patrons love the octopus.”
One reason for the octopuses popularity is its graceful movement, which is made possible by a nine-brained system, according to the aquarium’s animal care coordinator and senior biologist Carly Janusson.
“They have a brain in each arm and one in the head, that’s why they can move their arms around so delicately,” she said.
Each arm is equipped with chemoreceptors allowing the animal to taste with its arms.
“They literally taste their environment,” Janusson said.
She said there are increased measures for taking care on a octopus but the extra effort is well worth the result and added octopuses are a top attractor for larger aquariums as well.
She referenced a visitor survey conducted at the Monterey Bay aquarium that revealed the octopus as a key draw.
“Even an aquarium where they have huge sharks and tuna and marine mammals the octopus out-