Octopus Hideout

Brainy, Blue-Blooded Sea Creatures With Three Hearts Apiece in Valentine’s Day Debut at SEA LIFE Blackpool

Some of nature’s brainiest creatures arrive at SEA LIFE Blackpool this week.

They are the residents of a stunning new feature exhibition Octopus Hideout, which opens to visitors on Valentine’s Day – February 14th.

The centre could scarcely have chosen a more appropriate day…since four of the new residents boast no fewer than 12 hearts between them.

“Octopuses and cuttlefish have three hearts, two which operate their gills and a third pumping blood around the rest of the body,” said SEA LIFE Blackpool displays supervisor Scott Blacker.

“And because they use a copper-based protein to pump oxygen round the body, instead of the iron-based protein hemoglobin that humans use, their blood is greeny-blue rather than red.”

Octopus Hideout

A Giant Pacific Octopus, the world’s biggest, is likely to grab star billing, but the line-up also includes a common octopus and a mimic octopus.

The Giant Pacific and the common are two of the smartest animals in the marine world, both able to solve puzzles and negotiate complex mazes. There was even a case of a common octopus in Germany using a carefully aimed jet of water to fuse a particular light bulb it was unhappy with…not once, but three times.

The mimic octopus is a master of disguise, able to pass itself off as a sea snake, lionfish and other dangerous species to avoid predators.

Cuttlefish, renowned for being able to change their skin pattern in less than one second, to the best possible colour combination to blend in with any background, are also featured.

The final new arrival is the most prehistoric member of the octopus family, the nautilus. This octopus-in-a-shell has barely changed in more than 500 million years. The spiral-shaped ‘ammonites’ regularly unearthed by fossil-hunters are its ancient relatives. The nautilus’s spiral shell is made up of a series of different sized chambers. To move higher up in the water column it fills some of those chambers with its own bodily gases. To move down again it expels those gases with water.

“Most octopuses like to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible by curling up in a convenient hidey-hole or crevice,” said Scott.

“Our new displays are designed to allow them the illusion of privacy while enabling visitors to spy on them.

“Even so, their camouflage is so good there will be occasions when visitors will have to search very carefully,” he added, “but that’s just part of the fascination with these amazing creatures.”

Scott and his SEA LIFE colleagues across the UK believe octopuses are so fascinating – and so intelligent – they are campaigning to get them taken off seafood menus.

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