"Tentacles"

RW11-547
Flamboyant cuttlefish is one of the species featured in "Tentacles", the new exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. © Monterey Bay Aquarium

"Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes" features the greatest variety ever of rarely seen animals, plus multimedia interactives, and art and artifacts tracing 4,000 years of fascination with these many-armed masters of disguise. It opens April 12.

The "Tentacles" Press Kit includes:

  • Main News Release
  • Exhibit Fact Sheet
  • Exhibit Gallery Tour and Species Highlights
  • What is a Cephalopod? Fact Sheet
News Release: Breakthrough 'Tentacles' Exhibit Transports Visitors to Astounding World of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes
Exhibit features greatest variety ever of rarely seen animals, plus multimedia interactives, tattoos and art tracing 4,000 years of fascination with these many-armed masters of disguise

In summary:

• Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes opens April 12, 2014.

• It is the largest most diverse living exhibit ever created to showcase amazing animals that have gripped the human imagination for thousands of years.

• Over the life of the exhibit, visitors might see any of the two dozen species that will rotate through a dozen living exhibits, from giant Pacific octopus to Hawaiian bobtail squid, the wunderpus and others – including one of the world’s smallest squid and one of the world’s largest cuttlefishes.

• Tentacles includes multimedia interactive exhibits that dramatize the animals’ ability to change color and shape, and swim with jet propulsion. There will be art pieces highlighting 4,000 years of human fascination: replicas of Minoan pottery and Roman tiles; Victorian-era scientific and literary illustrations; modern-day tattoos; and contemporary mechanical sculptures commissioned exclusively for the exhibition.

• From time to time there may be displays of never-before-exhibited deep sea squid and octopuses collected in collaboration with the aquarium’s sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

• Tentacles is included with aquarium admission.

Octopuses, squid and cuttlefishes have gripped the human imagination for thousands of years. From the kraken to Cthluhu (ku-thoo-loo), the myths surrounding them live in our collective memory. Now the Monterey Bay Aquarium is opening the largest, most diverse living exhibit ever created to showcase these amazing animals.

“Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes” is the most dynamic special exhibition ever from the aquarium that pioneered award-winning exhibits of jellies and deep-sea animals. It opens on April 12, 2014.

Over the life of the exhibit, visitors to Tentacles might see any of the two dozen species that will rotate through a dozen living exhibits, from giant Pacific octopus to Hawaiian bobtail squid, the Wunderpus and others – including one of the world’s smallest squid and one of the world’s largest cuttlefishes. From time to time there may also be displays of never-before-exhibited deep sea squid and octopuses collected in collaboration with the aquarium’s sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Tentacles includes multimedia interactive exhibits that dramatize the features that set these animals apart, and art pieces highlighting 4,000 years of human fascination: replicas of Minoan pottery and tiles from Pompeii and Herculaneum; Victorian-era scientific and literary illustrations; modern-day tentacle tattoos; and contemporary mechanical sculptures commissioned exclusively for the exhibition.

As always, the focus is on the living animals. As visitors enter the galleries, they’ll encounter a 12-foot-long window into a school of nearly foot-long bigfin reef squid. Turning a corner, they’ll enter a grotto housing two giant Pacific octopuses. Elsewhere, they’ll find smaller exhibits that can house seldom-seen species like flamboyant cuttlefish, chambered nautilus, Wunderpus and two-spot octopus.

Living exhibits may feature one of the world’s largest cuttlefishes (the broadclub cuttlefish, more than a foot long) and the tiny northern pygmy squid, an inch or less in length. There will be an egg lab that showcases the aquarium’s groundbreaking work in rearing these incredible animals – including custom-built “bubblers” crafted out of empty soda bottles. The galleries include an exhibit, with chilled seawater, set aside to house living deep sea squid and octopus species if collection efforts prove successful. “These are all short-lived animals. Many are species that have never been exhibited for very long by any of our colleagues, or raised through their entire lifecycle,” said Jennifer Dreyer, special exhibits coordinator for the animal care team. “This is definitely a first for any aquarium.”

Cephalopods – octopuses and their kin – are found from the poles to the tropics, in tide pools and the deep sea. They can be colorful or transparent, and range in size from less than an inch to more than 50 feet long.

Exhibits in Tentacles include video clips that reveal these animals’ amazing color- and shape-changing abilities and other fascinating but rarely seen behaviors.

One interactive exhibit lets people transform themselves in ways that mimic the colorshifting skills that help squid, octopuses and cuttlefishes ambush their prey, hide from predators, or communicate with potential mates. Visitors can share their “cephalopod selfies” by email or through social media channels.

Other interactives give visitors control of a model chambered nautilus as it moves up and down a reef in search of food, and let them provide the jet propulsion to send a replica squid racing through the water.

Three mechanical sculptures commissioned by the aquarium from contemporary Bay Area artist Nemo Gould tell important conservation stories about the impacts that pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction have on these remarkable creatures.

“These animals capture our imagination,” said Jaci Tomulonis, lead exhibit developer on the team that created Tentacles. “This is a great opportunity for people to meet incredible animals and explore ways to protect them for their future.”

“Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes” is included with aquarium admission.

More information can be found on the aquarium’s website, www.montereybayaquarium.org.

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.

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“Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes”Exhibit Facts
What: A $3.5-million special exhibition that features the largest, most diverse living exhibits of rarely seen and amazing octopuses, squid and cuttlefishes, along with engaging interactive experiences that are the hallmark of exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes” opens on April 12, 2014.
Where: Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, California
When: Opens April 12, 2014, included with aquarium admission
The exhibit: The 3,700-square-foot exhibition features any of the two dozen species of octopuses, squid and cuttlefishes, plus chambered nautiluses, that will rotate through a dozen living exhibits. The exhibition tells the story of amazing masters of disguise and the adaptations that have allowed these accomplished hunters to thrive for hundreds of millions of years. Four exhibit galleries take visitors into the mysterious world of cephalopods, combining live displays with immersive experiences and hands-on activities created by the aquarium’s award-winning team of exhibit designers and developers. 
What's unique:

Features the largest and most diverse living exhibits ever created to showcase unique: octopuses, squid and cuttlefishes, including visitor favorites like the giant Pacific octopus, and introduces visitors to the Hawaiian bobtail squid, wunderpus octopus, and other colorful and mysterious cephalopods. On occasion there may also be displays of never-before-exhibited deep sea squid and octopuses collected in collaboration with the aquarium’s sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. An egg lab showcases the aquarium’s groundbreaking work in rearing these incredibly complex animals. Multimedia interactive experiences include one in which visitors mimic the color-shifting ability cephalopods use to ambush prey, hide from predators, or communicate with potential mates; another interactive lets visitors control the movement of a model chambered nautilus, or model squid that race through water using jet propulsion. The exhibition features art pieces highlighting 4,000 years of human fascination with cephalopods, from historical replicas to contemporary mechanical sculptures commissioned especially for “Tentacles”. 

Admission: Included with aquarium admission: $39.95 adult; $34.95 senior (over 65) and student (13–17 or with college ID); $24.95 child (3–12) (2014 rates). Children under 3 are admitted free. Group rates are available with advance booking for parties of 20 or more.
Parking / shuttle service: Parking in Cannery Row parking garage three blocks away. (Passenger drop-off shuttle in front of aquarium.) Free MST trolley service links the aquarium with service: downtown Monterey, Pacific Grove and waterfront destinations during peak summer season (Memorial Day to Labor Day).
Information / advance tickets: General information is available at www.montereybayaquarium.org or (831) advance 648-4800. Advance tickets are available online or by calling (866) 963-9645. tickets There is no service charge to print tickets at home or to pick them up on arrival. There is a small fee to receive tickets by mail. Local hotels also sell two-day tickets (at one-day prices) to their guests.
“Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes” Species Highlights and Gallery Tour

“Tentacles” is a sensory extravaganza of live exhibits and interactive experiences in four galleries that highlight a group of animals that has captured the human imagination for thousands of years. Visitors explore the intriguing lives of cephalopods as they come face-to-face with multi-armed creatures – octopuses, squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses – and learn why these species are endlessly fascinating.

Over the multi-year life of the exhibition, visitors might see any of two dozen species that will rotate through a dozen living exhibits. “Tentacles” is the largest, most diverse living exhibition ever created to showcase these cryptic creatures. 

Introduction

What exactly is a cephalopod? Visitors will learn that all cephalopods – octopuses, squid, cuttlefishes and nautiluses – share a common body structure that includes a head and eyes, arms and tentacles, and a beak and radula (a flexible, file-like tongue covered by small teeth). A colorful school of bigfin reef squid greet visitors from a 1,900-gallon exhibit with a 8-foot window, setting the stage for the epic experience to follow.

Bigfin reef squid
Sepioteuthis lessoniana
This Indo-Pacific species enjoys warmer waters and may be mistaken for its relative, the cuttlefish, because of the oval fin that extends around its mantle like translucent frills framing its body. Bigfin reef squid can grow to 13 inches long. While other squid are lone rangers in the ocean, when bigfin reef squid encounter a predator this savvy species schools together into one long line in order to appear larger.

Octopuses

Octopuses’ ability to contort their form and coloration to camouflage with their environment is entrancing and makes them exceptionally successful survivors at sea. In this gallery visitors explore why octopuses are both revered and feared in art and literature, as well as discovering what distinguishes them from their cephalopod relatives. 

Day octopus
Octopus cyanea
While most octopuses hunt at night, this species spends its days stalking crabs, clams and fishes. The day octopus roams the reefs in tropical waters from Hawaii to East Africa and can transform its skin into long, lumpy ridges, mimicking nearby corals, rocks or algae. The 3-foot-long predators are short-lived animals, surviving just one year and breeding only once. 

Two-spot octopus
Octopus bimaculoides
Glowing blue circular eyespots on each side of its head may trick predators and prey alike into thinking that the blue-eyed beauty marks are its actual eyes. Meanwhile the cunning two-spot octopus lives to see another night while feasting on a shelled morsel. Found in deep waters from central to northern Baja, California. 

Wunderpus
Wunderpus photogenicus
If there were a superhero cephalopod the wunderpus would be a strong contender. Colored copper-brown with elaborate pearl-white stripes and spots all over its body, this master of disguise changes its color, shape and movements to mimic other sea animals. In a flash it transforms into a lethal lionfish, swimming past a potential predator; the next nanosecond it mutates again. Its range is the IndoMalayan archipelago. 

Giant Pacific octopus
Enteroctopus dofleini
The largest octopus, this reddish-pink beauty grows to about 16 feet, weighs 50 to 110 pounds, and lives approximately 4 years. Its eight arms are covered with over 2,000 suction cups, giving this octopus an iron grip and keen sense of taste and smell. Females lay 18,000 to 74,000 eggs that she hangs from the roof of her den for seven months or until the young hatch, fanning them with her arms, or contracting her body to shoot streams of oxygen-rich water over the eggs. The den provides a haven for brooding eggs and for the mother octopus to feed in peace. Natural range in the wild is from Japan to Alaska and south through Baja, California.

Squid and Nautiluses

In the third gallery, visitors encounter animals that more closely resemble octopuses (the squid) and also meet living fossils of the sea (nautiluses) that are also related to their nonshelled neighbors. In this gallery, a unique interactive experience lets visitors create “cephalopod selfies” by transforming the color and pattern of their faces to mimic the survival skills of this adept family of animals. 

Chambered nautilus
Nautilus pompilius
Although the chambered nautilus looks least like its relatives, it has actually changed the least in the last 500 million years. It’s the only remaining cephalopod with an external shell and only one of two cephalopods, without an ink sac. Unlike octopuses, squid and cuttlefishes, the nautilus kept its stunning shell, which is well known for its elaborate internal Fibonacci spiral pattern. The shell offers protection and chambers within the shell provide buoyancy control, permitting this Indo-Pacific beauty to move up and down in the water column to hunt at the surface and find protection in the depths.

Hawaiian bobtail squid
Euprymna scolopes
As its name implies, this species is native to the Pacific Ocean where it can be found in shallow coastal waters off of Hawaii. The bobtail squid is akin to a wizard with its own invisibility cloak due to its symbiotic relationship with a bioluminescent bacteria that lives in its mantle. When the pear-shaped squid leaves the safety of the seafloor to hunt at night, the bacteria hides the squid’s silhouette by matching the amount of light hitting the top of its mantle, making it virtually invisible when viewed from below.

Egg lab
Visitors sneak a peek into the groundbreaking techniques used by aquarium marine biologists to rear squid, octopuses and cuttlefishes that populate the “Tentacles” exhibition. One such innovation cost as little as a $3 bottle of soda pop. “A Better Bubbler” exemplifies one innovative method that repurposes used plastic bottles while improving breeding success in order to reduce the pressure to collect wild stocks of these cryptic creatures.

Deep sea species
Cephalopods are found from the poles to the tropics, in tide pools and even in the deep ocean. The aquarium will continue to explore the depths of Monterey Canyon with our colleagues at the independent Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in the hope of occasionally exhibiting living deep sea members of this intriguing family – potentially including the vampire squid. Chilled seawater supplies are available in this gallery if collection efforts prove successful. 

Cuttlefishes

Like their other close relatives, cuttlefishes have three hearts, an ink sac, head and eyes, and survive by changing the color, shape and texture of their skin. They are named for their unique internal shell, the cuttlebone. Squid and cuttlefishes have two additional retractable tentacles along with their eight arms to help with catching prey. In this final gallery visitors learn about cuttlefishes’ stealthy survival skills and what distinguishes them from their multi-armed relatives. 

Broadclub cuttlefish
Sepia latimanus
One of the hypnotic heavyweights in the cuttlefish family, the broadclub cuttlefish is the second largest cuttlefish species, with eight arms and two feeding tentacles. This cunning predator hypnotizes prey with flashing, colored bands that ripple along its skin, while its two larger, club-like arms strike at lightning speed to capture the unsuspecting morsel. The broadclub cuttlefish will be one of several species that will rotate on and off exhibit throughout the exhibitions run. This species can be found in Indo-Pacific waters from Southeast Asia to northern Australia. 

Flamboyant cuttlefish
Metasepia pfefferi
The flamenco dancers among cuttlefishes, the flamboyant cuttlefish is a perpetual color machine, continually flashing vibrant yellow, maroon, brown, white and red along its body. This small but feisty cuttlefish can be found from Papua New Guinea to northern Australia, walking along the seafloor on arms and fins – a rarer mode of transit for these otherwise adept swimmers.

Stumpy cuttlefish
Sepia bandensis
A squat species that forages along the seafloor, the stumpy cuttlefish may be small in size, but it’s a mighty hunter. It hunkers down among rocks, coral, sand and algae, effortlessly blending with its environment. Once out of sight, the stumpy cuttlefish ambushes unsuspecting prey and continues to mosey along the ocean bottom on its lower arms. Its native range is from Malaysia to the Philippines. 

“Tentacles” Basic Facts

What exactly is a cephalopod?

  • A mollusk, related to snails, clams, mussels and sea slugs. Common body structure including: bilaterally symmetrical body, a mantle which acts as a skin-like covering, three hearts, blue blood (when exposed to air), file-like tongue called a radula, a head surrounded by a ‘foot’ which has evolved into arms and/or tentacles.
  • More than 800 species of cephalopods have been identified so far; scientists suspect there may be as many as 1,000.
  • Difference between octopuses, squid, nautiluses and cuttlefishes
    • All species except the nautiluses have suckers on their tentacles and arms
    • Octopus don’t have tentacles, they only have arms
    • Squid and cuttlefishes have eight arms and two retractable tentacles
    • Nautiluses are one of only a few cephalopod without an ink sac
    • All cephalopods, except nautiluses, have acute vision that they rely on to avoid predators and detect prey.
    • All octopuses and most other cephalopods are color blind – surprising considering they are adept at changing colors.

A Closer Look

  • Nautiluses
    • Have head and eyes, mantle and siphon, beak and radula, no ink sac and up to 100 tentacles without suckers.
  • Squid
    • Have head and eyes, mantle and siphon, beak and radula, an ink sac and eight arms with two tentacles with suckers; some squid species have hooks on their arms and serrated “teeth” in their suction cups.
  • Octopuses
    • Have head and eyes, mantle and siphon, beak and radula, an ink sac and eight arms with one or two rows of suckers but no hooks or sucker rings.
  • Cuttlefishes
    • Have head and eyes, mantle and siphon, beak and radula, an ink sac and eight arms with two tentacles with suckers.