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Newport Aquarium celebrates 25th year with updated octopus exhibit

small octopus underwater with some aquarium rocks and seagrasses
Newport Aquarium
The wunderpus is found around the western rim of the Pacific Ocean.

The Newport Aquarium is celebrating its 25th anniversary by opening the renovated Ring of Fire: World of the Octopus exhibit.

"We have a rotating collection of all different kinds of octopuses here, including our wunderpus. He is amazing; he is really just a really bright spot in this exhibit," says Madison Brady, public relations manager. "He's a master of mimicry. He can make himself look like a venomous sea snake. He can make himself look like a lionfish and just turn into all different kinds of species where it's like, 'maybe I don't want to mess with that guy today in the ocean.' "

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The exhibit first opened in March, 2018, featuring a giant Pacific octopus, hundreds of moon jellyfish, and Japanese spider crabs. During the gallery renovation, the giant Pacific octopus got a new, larger habitat.

There's also a new floor-to-ceiling display that shows off the inhabitants color-changing and shape-shifting behaviors. Brady says people will likely see something new each time they visit.

"This is an exhibit that has a rotating collection," She explains. "Wunderpus is brand new here, and also our Japanese golden crab is new — he's in the middle. He's bright yellow, you can't miss him. The weird Puget Sound crabs are really bright and really lumpy; they're all new."

The animals are rotating among other Association of Zoos & Aquariums-accredited facilities.

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Another highlight, Brady says, is a display with recreated hydrothermal vents — tall structures that form where molten lava meets near-freezing seawater. The 360° case bubbles and fizzes like a vent would in the wild, and is home to an assortment of fish, anemones, crabs and lobsters.

The exhibit is cave-shaped to mimic the sea floor, complete with "churning seismic activity" as would be found around the Pacific Rim.

The renovated exhibit opens to the public Friday, March 22.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.