Giant Octopus behind the scenes at New York State Aquarium !

Jan 6, 2003
After doing this rigorous project based on re-designing the NY state (coney island) aquarium last year for college, the animal behaviorist superviser Hans Walters responded to my love of octopus during my visit and promised he'd take me behind the scenes to see theirs if I paid admission. Took me a while to get back there since school work got busy but finally got the chance yesturday.

The octopus I remember seeing last year was still there but of course, was now old and had began laying eggs so she was unfortunately finished. I started worrying before calling for Hans but once he came he just took me to this weird alley and we headed "underneath" the gateway to the aquarium entrance outside. There they had a little room filled with animals ready to fill in for the older ones on exhibit. First little tank had a very healthy, GPO stuck to the glass. The top was covered in green velcro and as soon as he opened the top, it immediately started coming out the tank and gripping its arms on me one by one. It was amazing to feel the energy of the animal...something I always wanted to experience.

Hans said it most likely wouldnt bite so I let the octopus do what it wanted to me lol. My hand got suction cupped into a fist and held near the base of its arms, but it would just hold me tight while its other arms slithered around on the sleeves and hand of my other arm. Iv always seen these instances on television and knew that they were strong, but this was definately stronger than I imagined. Such a tight grip, id have to free myself every few minutes lol. Especially since the water was so freezing.

The whole thing was probably only 5 minutes long...I guess Hans was really busy, but I really enjoyed the experience and its one iv wanted since I was a kid. Iv gotten to do behind the scenes twice before, but both times were a few years ago and werent as satisfying at the adventure aquarium in Camden, NJ. Both times the octopus was either very old or very young and not as interactive, but it was neat to drop food in its tank and see the set-ups from the back as well as speak to the biologists.

Getting to do this type of thing is something I wish I could somehow keep doing more often without the need of pure luck lol....but im guessing the only way is to start scuba diving or ultimately raise one in captivity which I definately could, but money and lack of time stops me at this time of my life in college.

I wish aquariums offered these interactions, but of course the octopus is rarely exploited or used as a behind the scenes option and if anyones lucky enough to get one, its mainly a one time thing as they all say.

Not sure when or how ill ever be able to pet my favorite animal again but hopefully in the next few yrs ill get lucky again!

Sorry no pictures my hands were obviously
Its for sure inspired me to get a giant octopus species one day. If not anytime in the near future, definately a Vulgaris then im really into the large octopuses.

Right now im currently trying to get another shot behind the stations at the Adventure Aquarium again in camden, NJ. Their GPO should be huge by now since I last saw the little girl in its tank last year in July.

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