MONTEREY, Calif., March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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 created by the aquarium that pioneered award-winning exhibits of jellies and deep-sea animals. It opens April 12, 2014 and continues through Labor Day 2016.
Over the life of the exhibit, visitors might see any of the two dozen species that will rotate through a dozen displays, from giant Pacific octopus to Hawaiian bobtail squid, the wonderpus octopus and more. From time to time there may be displays of never-before-exhibited deep sea squid and octopuses, in collaboration with the aquarium's sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Tentacles includes multimedia interactives that dramatize the features that set these animals apart, and artworks highlighting 4,000 years of human fascination: replicas of Minoan pottery and Roman tiles; Victorian-era scientific illustrations; modern tentacle tattoos; and kinetic sculptures commissioned for the exhibition.
But the focus is the living animals. Visitors entering the galleries will encounter 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 seldom-seen species like flamboyant cuttlefish, chambered nautilus, wonderpus and two-spot octopus.
Living exhibits might 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. An egg lab showcases the aquarium's groundbreaking work in rearing these incredible animals – including custom-built soda-bottle "bubblers" as incubators. The galleries also include an exhibit to house 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 special exhibits coordinator Jennifer Dreyer. "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 rarely seen behaviors.
One digital interactive exhibit lets people transform themselves in ways that mimic the color-shifting skills that help squid, octopuses and cuttlefishes ambush their prey, hide from predators, or communicate with potential mates. Visitors can share "cephalopod selfies" by email or through social media channels.
Three kinetic sculptures commissioned for Tentacles from contemporary Bay Area artist Nemo Gould tell important conservation stories about the impacts of pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction on these remarkable creatures.
"These animals capture our imagination," said lead exhibit developer Jaci Tomulonis. "This is a great opportunity for people to meet incredible animals and explore ways to protect them for their future."
For details, visit the aquarium's website, www.montereybayaquarium.org.
Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.
SOURCE Monterey Bay Aquarium