The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea’s newest resident may be a staff favourite — a four-pound giant Pacific octopus that should be living thousands of kilometres away.
“Her name Storm comes from the storm that brought her to us,” said Kit Thornton, the head of animal care at the Sidney-based aquarium.
That’s because the storms that hit the continent in December and stalled air traffic played a key role in Storm’s new home.
“She was on a flight to Finland, and that winter storm a week before Christmas, of course, stopped air traffic all over B.C., and she was a victim of that,” Thornton told CHEK News.
Animals are carefully packed for air travel, but with airlines grounded for days, there was concern Storm might take too long to reach her destination.
Even though she had enough cold, oxygenated seawater supplying her container while she waited for a flight, a decision was made.
“I was given a call, ‘There’s an octopus here. Would you be willing to take her and give her a home?’ I, of course, said yes,” said Thornton.
She says creatures at the aquarium, including the resident wolf eel, have grown quite comfortable with their surroundings, adding: “They just love to interact. They are very tactile.”
Only now, Storm’s the star in her own tank and, according to Thornton, could quadruple her size and weight.
“We’re still getting to know Storm’s personality. Right now, she seems very curious. She is interested in touching us and coming out to play with us while we give her good,” she added.
“But I think just curious at the moment.”
In six months, she’ll be returned to the waters of Ucluelet where she was born.
READ ALSO: Pacific octopus encounter in Alberni Inlet captured on video, mesmerizing millions: ‘It’s so cool!’