There are over 300 types of octopuses, but the Giant Pacific variety is the stuff of legends. This colossal sea invertebrate has been cast as a sea demon in literary novels, religious texts and even modern day tall tales – but is there truth behind the myth?
Regarded by many as the most intelligent of all invertebrate species, the giant Pacific octopus usually grows to about 16 feet in length. Average adults weigh from 50-90 pounds. And if you think that’s impressive, consider this: the largest recorded octopus weighed 600 pounds and had a 30-foot arm span.
Octopus legends exist in many countries. Ancient Mediterranean cultures believed in Yamm, an ocean deity with many heads and legs. A Bahamian myth speaks of the color-changing Lusca, and then there’s Rogo-tumu, a Tahitian sea demon that pulls his victims into the depths of the ocean.
A creature resembling the octopus was cast in Homer’s Odyssey. Over the years, sailors have reported a monstrous eight-legged sea beast that can shred a ship to pieces. Some people believe the Leviathan animal mentioned in the Bible is in fact the giant octopus. And in many cultures, the two fleshy horns above the giant Pacific’s eyes are evidence of the devil’s mark.
Adding to its shroud of mystery is the fact that the octopus comes in a long list of sizes and colors. He can change his skin’s hue and texture on command and even pulsate color. Some octopuses actually have glow-in-the-dark tentacles.
Does a monstrous octopus exist or is it simply a legend of the deep? Be sure to watch The Hunt for the Giant Octopus, Thursday October 14 at 9P et/pt on Nat Geo WILD!