Macduff Marine Aquarium has recently developed a new octopus exhibit featuring the lesser octopus (Eledone cirrhosa).
Staff have been keeping a single female in the display and, since she arrived six months ago, she has been fascinating visitors and aquarium staff alike, as she has learned to negotiate mazes, retrieve snacks from jars and deal with puzzles, which she has been presented with in order to keep her stimulated and happy in her tank.
Lesser octopuses are relatively common in Scottish waters, but they have a short life span of about 18 months. Since this one was already fully grown when she arrived, having been donated by a local fisherman, staff at the aquarium made the decision to release her back into the sea, to give her a chance to find a mate and breed in the wild – this naturally happens towards the end of an octopus’s life.
After laying eggs, the female octopus stays with them, protecting and aerating the eggs. She does not leave them to feed during this time and eventually dies when the eggs hatch.
Thanks to local film maker and friend of the aquarium, Bernard Martin, they have made a short video of the octopus release, including underwater and drone footage.