Every year the facility tries to persuade crab fishermen to donate live octopuses that sneak into crab traps looking for food, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.
Giant Pacific octopuses are usually tossed back into the ocean, and those that aren't often wind up on fishermen's barbecue grills.
Aquarium officials said they're lucky if they're given one live specimen a year, so they were pleased when fisherman Bob Burchell donated three 50-pound females he caught in the last two weeks.
"They're so iconic -- it's sort of like shaking hands with a sea monster," said marine biologist Mike McGill, who held one of the new arrivals.
"They wrap their arms around you so they can feel you and taste you with their suction cups. If they don't think you're a predator, they can be very friendly."
Giant Pacific octopuses, the largest octopus species in the world, are so reclusive they're almost never seen.
"They're gorgeous," said Catherine Fischer, who brought her two children, ages 1 and 3, to see the bright orange, tentacled creatures.
"I struggle with seeing them in captivity but this is pretty much the only way to show them to my kids," she said.