The Octopus Research & Observation Center - Kona

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A Tank sharing vision on the big island of hawaii 

Coming in late-2019, the Octopus Research & Observation Center - Kona (OCTOROCK) will provide a unique space where scientists, students, photographers, and film-makers can have access to observing O. cyanea, or the Hawaiian Day Octopus. Generally, documentation and observation of octopuses in the wild are severely limited by ocean conditions, prohibitive expenses, and the poor likelihood of actually finding these camouflaging animals when needed. In addition, octopuses are extraordinarily sensitive animals, which reduces the chances of observing truly natural behavior in many lab settings.

At OCTOROCK, invited students, researchers, and photographers will have an opportunity to observe the octopuses in enhanced, benthic, open-air, sunlit tank conditions that resemble their natural environment as much as possible. Using the species' native ocean water in a flow-through system, OCTOROCK intends to create a bridge between artificial environments and naturalistic observation in which our knowledge of these incredible animals can both be enhanced and reach broader audiences.




Kona, Hawaii


OCTOROCK is currently under development at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park, which is managed by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

NELHA is the home to the world's first successful Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant, which utilized the temperature difference between warm surface sea water and cold deep ocean water to create electricity. HOST Park is dedicated to advancing ocean and energy research, education, and economic development in Hawaii.

Since 1974, the State of Hawaii has invested $100 million to create this unique facility on the west coast of the Big Island. HOST Park is an “outdoor demonstration site for emerging renewable and ocean based technologies.” The organizations housed in HOST Park span across industries in aquaculture, clean energy, and ocean technologies.

HOST Park’s secure infrastructure and aquatic resources are critical to the OCTOROCK project. The surface and deep seawater distribution system will provide optimal conditions for the sensitive species in our center. Access to the animal’s natural seawater in our enriched habitat tank systems will create comfortable, safe environments for the Hawaiian Day Octopus to thrive. Our priority is the well-being of these sensitive animals so they can be engaged and observed in the most natural state that we can achieve. The enriched and benthic environments we intend to provide, coupled with the existing oceanfront natural lighting, will uniquely benefit our intended client base of behavioral scientists, educators, photographers, and film-makers.

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Hawaiian Day Octopus

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii


Cephalopods are among the most sophisticated in the animal kingdom with regard to intelligent behavior and learning capabilities (Mather and Mather, 2003; Tricarico et al., 2011). The cognition and social behavior of cephalopods remains relatively understudied. This is largely due to the challenges associated with their observation (Mathger et al., 2009). Most studies utilize naturalistic observations with small sample sizes or conduct investigations in highly unnatural lab conditions. Octopuses are known for being extraordinarily ‘sensitive’ animals, therefore, one of the most critical necessities for behavioral studies is the ability to observe the animals in their most natural state possible, without confounding stressors (Darmaillacq et al., 2014). OCTOROCK will provide near-natural conditions and the ability to manipulate learning environments and directly observe the octopuses, which may offer insights into human-animal communication, cephalopod cognition, and how to best conserve this valuable species. 

Additionally, OCTOROCK will allow visiting photographers and documentary film-makers to record the Hawaiian Day Octopus in natural light and digitally capture behaviors and appearances that are only exhibited in the absence of external stressors.

Conservation and education are paramount in our vision. By increasing awareness of this species and allowing visitors to utilize our facilities, we are promoting long-term research and management of a culturally and economically important animal. We aim to place this beautiful and intelligent species in the spotlight while enhancing our current knowledge base of this elusive creature.


Dr. James Wood obtained his PhD at Dalhousie University. Through The Cephalopod Page, The Census of Marine Life,, and CephBase, Dr. Wood has been a pioneer in online marine science education and outreach. He co-authored the book Octopus: The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate, a chapter in Cephalopod Cognition, and numerous scientific journal articles. Dr. Wood has worked as a faculty research scientist, has served as Director of Education at the Aquarium of the Pacific, and has served as Associate Director at the Waikiki Aquarium. 

Gabrielle Lout has a B.S. in Marine and Conservation Biology from Seattle University and a M.A. in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development from Hawaii Pacific University. Her work and research has focused on coastal and watershed management, ecosystem services, coral reef conservation, and fresh water pricing. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at Arizona State University, developing solutions to reduce waste in the U.S. seafood supply chain.

Adam Daw has a B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M at Galveston, a M.S. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and is currently a PhD student in the Coastal Sciences program at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. His work/research encompasses a range of topics related to the biology, ecology, and aquaculture of marine organisms and he has published numerous scientific papers, magazine articles, and has assisted with book chapters on these topics. He was previously the laboratory manager for the National Resource Center for Cephalopods where he helped oversee the captive care and culture of octopus, cuttlefish, squid and nautilus along with working with public aquariums and universities to facilitate their use in educational displays and research. He has spent many years specifically working with the octopuses around Hawai‘i Island as part of his Master’s thesis and work for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center.

Martin J. Kossoff, CFP, AIF, is President of Allegiant Private Advisors, LLC, Sarasota, FL, one of the largest independent advisory firms in the Gulf Coast region. Martin is recognized as one of the country's best advisors by Barron's and by the Financial Times. Allegiant currently has over $700 million under management and advises high net-worth families, business, and non-profits. Martin currently serves as a member of two non-profit boards and as an advisor to many others, consulting with them on issues such as fiduciary responsibility, establishment of investment guidelines and procedures, and protocols related to Investment Policy Statements. Martin graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in Geology, and received his Master’s in Geology (Marine Sedimentology) from the State University of New York, Binghamton.