Staff at the Marine Life Center on Bellingham’s waterfront said farewell to a popular attraction recently as they released a giant Pacific octopus named Mazu just before Christmas.
“She arrived at the end of June this year weighing 4 pounds and stole all our hearts,” director Casey Pruett wrote on the center’s Facebook page. “She weighed 22 pounds and stretched over 12 feet long” when released last month. “Mazu was known for loving belly scratches and live crab.”
Pruett said Mazu delighted visitors all summer and fall at the Marine Life Center.
“She was released ... back into the San Juan Islands so she can live the rest of her life the way nature intended,” Pruett said.
An octopus is a mollusk, a category that also includes squid, cuttlefish, clams and oysters, Pruett said. Octopuses have eight arms covered with suction cups for touch and taste. They have a beak-like mouth similar to a bird. Their paralyzing saliva helps digest their prey, she said.
Located in the Port of Bellingham complex at 1801 Roeder Avenue, the Marine Life Center has has several small aquariums, a large shallow tank for crabs, anemones, nudibranchs and other creatures of the intertidal zone, plus a small touch tank for a tactile experience. All feature the fish, plants and other creatures that inhabit Bellingham Bay and the Salish Sea
Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, go online to marinelifecenter.org or call 360-671-2431. Admission is free; donations accepted.