Eight-Armed Mischief Maker

Meet the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s newest aquarium addition, the California two-spot octopus


A mysterious mollusc with eight arms, two spots, and a West Coast origin now makes a splash in the Ocean State as the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s newest addition to their Nature Center and Aquarium as of November. The California two-spot octopus might hail from Pacific waters, but it’s making itself right at home in Bristol thanks to a breeding program at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

The octopus is described by ASRI as “captivating”, and that is certainly no exaggeration: The cephalopod can color-change to fit its environment, patterned with easily camouflaged grey or yellow splotches. It also has two distinct, bright blue fake eye spots that give it its name, which are used to deter potential predators. The octopus is fascinating to watch creep along the aquarium bed, mimicking the way it would move along the Californian reefs looking for food – its favorites are mollusks and crustaceans.

“It’s a tricky one,” ASRI warns in a press release announcing the octopus’s arrival, since octopi are among the most intelligent of all invertebrate. They cite stories of daring ones disassembling thermometers or escaping from their tanks. To occupy the restless creature, the octopus is given Lego blocks with bits of shrimp hidden inside to pull apart. Speaking of hidden, that’s another pastime for the octopus – it loves to curl up in nooks and crannies, observing the waters around it from a safe distance with a watchful eye, often surprising visitors when they walk by a seemingly empty tank and suddenly see an eight-armed animal propel itself from hiding.

Despite its mischievous nature, ASRI is excited for the California two-spot to join the family. To learn more about the creatures making ASRI their home, plan a visit to the Nature Center and Aquarium at 1401 Hope Street, Bristol.