The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes

Exotic, Hypnotic, Acrobatic & Dramatic! The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Tentacles exhibition takes you into the mysterious world of some of the ocean’s most cryptic creatures to explore the fascinating lives of malleable, multi-armed creatures and learn how they’ve ignited the human imagination and piqued human curiosity for thousands of years. In four multi-sensory galleries, visitors explore the intriguing lives of cephalopods. The first gallery illustrates the diverse but surprising species that make up this family; the second is committed to the curious and charismatic octopuses; and the third highlights the unique evolution and survival skills of squid and the most ancient species in the family, the chambered nautilus. The final gallery showcases the diversity and beauty of ethereal cuttlefishes. Over the life of Tentacles, the potential exists for more than two dozen species to rotate through a dozen live displays. Upon first entering expect to encounter a 12-foot-long window, behind which a school of foot-long bigfin reef squid may align themselves in one long line to appear like a continuous large animal (rather than several small, delicious morsels!). It’s a unique behavior. Nearby, you enter a grotto that two giant Pacific octopus call home. These masters of disguise may be difficult to detect initially, as they’re able to blend with nearly any environment’s shape, size and color. They’re able to manipulate objects with their eight arms, and many octopuses even discard the hard shells of prey outside their dens. Because squid, octopuses, cuttlefishes and nautiluses are often most active at night, aquarium designers created specialized exhibits to accommodate them. Next, encounter was as close to living fossils as it gets. Nautiluses are nearly 400 million years old. Unlike their soft-bodied kin, they evolved to keep their shell for protection and buoyancy control, and are able to manipulate air in the shell to move up and down. Surprisingly, they have 90 tentacles, all without suckers, but still useful for catching unassuming prey, like hermit crabs and shrimp. The final gallery features members of the cuttlefish family, including a real heavyweight: the pharaoh cuttlefish. It’s one of the largest, most territorial and most voracious hunters. To attract mates, the male splays out all eight arms to appear larger, and then begins flashing ornate blue, green, silver and gold colors on its back, while a blue iridescent band dances across the fringe of the mantle. The hypnotic colors communicate moods, courtship displays and threats. They’re also used for camouflage. After visiting Tentacles, visitors are sure to be hypnotized by this fascinating family and learn simple ways to help protect these magicians of the ocean so they’re around for generations to come.