The Environment

Home is where the heart is rings true even for octopus. In order to culture, conduct experiments, and view the behavior of our octopuses over the long-term, we must first create an environment that is comfortable and has elements the animals encounter and expect in their natural world. The challenge is meeting these requirements using five gallon aquariums in a rack system often dripping with seawater. We found that Nest security cameras provide wide-angle views of the entire seawater volume when placed just inches above the water surface. Similarly, outdoor security lighting is waterproof, and provides near infrared red light that can be seen by the cameras but is invisible to the octopus, allowing their busy nocturnal activities to be captured. So far, we have kept tank substrate and other environmental enrichment to a minimum to enable clear imaging but are actively exploring this area. Most important, we included a flower pot, which the octopus use as a den, carrying shells up to the entrance at the top to make a door (see The Shy Octopus). 


Engineering Nest

After creating the environment, the next step was to find a way to observe the octopuses. To do that we had to figure out a way where we could view the octopuses 24 hours a day clearly. To do this, we installed infrared lights so we could see the octopuses during the night when they are believed to be the most active. We also had to find a camera that could take in the entire surface area of the bottom of the tank. We found that nest security camera covered the entire surface area of the floor of the aquarium with its camera and we also found that we could hook it up to a centralized router and then broadcast the live streams allowing us to create this website.

Feeding our octopuses

Octopus love to eat crab! Fortunately, crabs are easy to collect with a short walk to Stony Beach, a local beach popular for swimming and owned by the MBL. Our team collects invasive Japanese shore crabs at low tide to provide live prey the octopus can hunt.