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Tank sharing SPACE on the big island of hawaii 

The Octopus Research & Observation Center - Kona (OCTOROCK) provides a unique space where scientists, students, and educational 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 film-makers 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 creates a bridge between naturalistic observation and indoor artificial closed-system environments. Our mission is to foster education, support interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase awareness of these incredible animals in broader audiences.

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Hawaiian Day Octopus

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

EDUCATION, RESEARCH, photography, & CONSERVATION

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). Over the next several years, OCTOROCK will continue striving to provide near-natural conditions and the ability to manipulate learning environments in order to directly observe octopuses in the hope of offering insights into human-animal communication, cephalopod cognition, and how to best conserve this valuable species. 

Additionally, OCTOROCK is able to provide students in classrooms around the country with a means to connect with these incredible animals through guided, interactive live-stream video. Invited high-school teachers and college professors can, free of charge, use the OCTOROCK facilities to enhance their curricula in the areas of psychology, biology, marine science, veterinary medicine, and other related fields.

Finally, OCTOROCK allows invited 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.

Education and increased understanding are paramount in our vision. By increasing awareness of this species and allowing invited visitors to utilize our facilities, we are hoping to promote long-term research and management of a culturally and environmentally important animal. We aim to place this beautiful and intelligent species in the spotlight while enhancing our current knowledge base of this elusive creature.