Stranded Octopus Convalesces at WWU’s SEA Discovery Center in Poulsbo

Western Washington University’s SEA (Science, Education, Aquarium) Discovery Center welcomed a new member to the aquarium last month.

On April 14, Pamela Benson, a local resident, had a surprise visitor – a giant Pacific octopus had stranded itself on her beach near Johnson Creek. It was alive but weak.

Benson notified the SEA Discovery Center's Pat Mus and volunteer John Votroubek, who rushed to the site. The octopus, which had blanched white, was gently placed in a cooler with seawater and eventually began to breathe again. On arrival at the SEA Discovery Center’s aquarium, they placed the octopus in the large tide pool tank. The staff at SEA Discovery Center carefully tended to the octopus for two hours; once she regained her normal reddish-orange color, they transferred her to the main octopus tank. 

The octopus is now in residence at the SEA Discovery Center, happily dining on crabs. Visitors can easily see and study her; during the day she prefers the seclusion of the corners in the large tank. Her species of octopus is the world's largest, weighing an average of 33 pounds with an arm span of 14 feet. In our region, scuba divers delight in running across an octopus; they can be found anywhere from the shallows down to 6,000 feet. Unfortunately, an octopus' life span is short – only three to five years.  

Visitors are encouraged to stop by the SEA Discovery Center to see the octopus and to help choose a name for center’s newest resident. 

Besides the new octopus, the aquarium is also home to many types of colorful marine life and environments, including a replica of the tide pools found throughout the Puget Sound. 

The SEA Discovery Center’s public aquarium hours are currently Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the octopus or aquarium, contact, call (360) 598-4460, or visit