UW News

July 30, 2020

Video: Meet the real-life kraken: the octopus


Seattle’s new hockey team is named for a legendary creature of the sea, and that’s a perfect fit, according to octopus researchers at the University of Washington.

David Gire, an assistant professor of psychology, studies the neuroscience of the octopus. He says their tentacles act like little brains as their arms forage for food, that one species is big and strong enough to take down a shark, and how, even though octopus are solitary creatures, they learn from each other and work together.

A UW Scandinavian Studies expert explains the mythology of the kraken here.

That’s part of what makes the Kraken such an appropriate name, and logo, for a hockey team, Gire says. With the octopus, “you’re seeing the epitome of teamwork. You’re seeing an arm with a bunch of little brains, and they’re all working together to guide where that arm goes.”

Gire’s team has had many an opportunity to “release the kraken” when researchers return an octopus to the Puget Sound, after observing it in the lab. His graduate students have taken a creative approach to explaining the facts of the octopus, in the form of kraken lore, here. For more information, contact Gire at dhgire@uw.edu.