Octopus: Could They Really Take Over The Sea?


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Corvids, like crows and ravens, are incredible. There’s no doubt that they’re next in line to become Earth’s dominant intelligent species — at least on the surface. However, when it comes to the oceans, the octopus rules the waves.

They use tools, learn through observation, and communicate by changing the colors and patterns on their skin. If that’s not enough, they can flash one message on one side of their body, and a different message on the other side. And we thought humans were the only species capable of speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

With the largest brain to body ratio of any invertebrate and a more complex genome than humans, you have to agree that the octopus is pretty special. And we’ve collected some stories and videos that will show you just how special these incredible creatures are.

Inky the Octopus’s Daring Escape

A common New Zealand Octopus
Inky was a Common New Zealand Octopus. Image: CC BY 2.0 by Brian Gratwicke, via Wikimedia Commons

Inky, a Common New Zealand Octopus, showed uncommon craftiness and daring when he escaped from the National Aquarium of New Zealand in 2016.

Inky, whom aquarium manager Rob Yarrell described as “very inquisitive,” and who “liked pushing boundaries,” perfected his escape late one night, after staff had gone home. First, he busted through his enclosure. Then he slithered across the floor, entered a drainpipe, then made his way to the sea.

This was no small feat, considering the New Zealand Common Octopus can reach nearly a yard in length, and the drainpipe hole had a mere six-inch diameter. Also, how did Inky know it led to the sea? Staff believes that Inky is out there right now, laughing at us pathetic humans. We wish him well.

You can see how aquarium staff think Inky made his escape in the video below.

Otto Hates The Spotlight

Otto, an octopus at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, is a real party animal. He’s been known to amuse himself by hurling rocks at the sides of his aquarium. The staff has also observed him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank. He is also fond of rearranging everything — and everyone — in the tank, much to the chagrin of the tank’s other denizens.

But Otto’s neatest trick was causing after-hours blackouts. The mysterious blackouts had been going on for some time when aquarium staff decided to stay late and find out what was going on. On the third night, they figured out what, or rather who was causing the problem.

Otto had discovered that he could swing up onto the edge of his tank. From there, he would shoot a jet of water at a spotlight over his tank. Aquarium staff speculates that the 2000 watt light, positioned directly above the tank, irritated Otto, so he decided to put a stop to it. Unfortunately, this trick caused chaos, as the blackouts shut off power to the life support systems for other tanks.

Staff also think that boredom might have played a role. The blackouts happened during the winter when the aquarium was closed, and there were no visitors. To try to remedy the problem, staff bought Otto some new toys and repositioned the light.

These Octos Run on Two Legs

This video makes us wonder whether some of our cephalopod brethren are preparing a land invasion. I mean, seriously. They can already escape, gracefully and lightning quick, through a system of water propulsion. Why do they need to walk on two legs as well?

Dr. Chrissy Huffard, a senior researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Center, has observed bipedal “walking” in several different octopus species. Why do they do it? It’s slow, inefficient, and, quite frankly, kinda goofy looking.

Unless….

Check out these “walking” octopi here.

Others Can Multitask

The Save our Seas Foundation, a conservation and research organization, found out by accident how clever — and brave — the octopus can be.

The Foundation’s Laura DeVos set up an underwater observation technology called BRUV, to observe life under the seas off the coast of South Africa. During one test run of the system, which uses bait in canisters to attract wildlife, an octopus decided to help itself.

Not only did this canny cephalopod get the goods from a sealed jar, but it did so while fighting off a shark with one tentacle! You can watch the whole thing below.

This Octo Stole a Diver’s Camera Then Made Its Own Home Movie

Victor Huang was scuba diving off the coast of New Zealand when he had an amazing octo-encounter. Huang said,

While trying to get video of a wild octopus, it suddenly dashed towards me and rips my shiny new camera from out of my hands, then swims off, all while the camera is recording! He swam away very quickly like a naughty shoplifter.

Huang was nervous, at first, because the octopus grabbed his arm. Then he realized the animal only had eyes for the camera, which it snatched and ran away with “like a naughty shoplifter.”

Huang had the last laugh, though. After chasing the octopus, Huang caught its attention with his spear gun. The curious octopus grabbed onto the gun, and while it was distracted, Huang was able to prise the camera from its mouth.

While we question the wisdom of arming a cheeky octopus with a spear gun, we’re glad Huang got his camera back.

You can watch the entire octopus-eye-view encounter in the video below.

Fancy a Trip to Octlantis?

Until very recently, scientists thought that the octopus was a solitary creature. But a new study has shown that this idea is all wet. In Jervis Bay, off the coast of Australia (why is it always Australia?), scientists have discovered an octopus city. Here, in a place that scientists have named “Octlantis,” some ten to fifteen octopi live together in a group of about a dozen neighboring dens. What’s more, they exhibit complex social behaviors related to mating, mate-defense, communication, and voting loser octos off the island.

Why do they do this? What are the advantages of communal life? And why don’t more octopi live this way? Scientists are baffled, and so are we. But you can visit Octlantis in this cool video.

The Incredible Octopus

The Octopus is one of nature’s most incredible creations. With staggering intelligence, incredible strength, flexibility, and craftiness, can world domination be far away? They can sabotage electrical systems, make tools out of coconut shells, and open jars from the inside. And doggone it, they’re cute, too.

If I were you, I’d stop eating them before the takeover is complete. And I’d lay off the calamari, too, just to be safe. Or at least stop throwing our trash into the ocean.

Featured Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Sylke Rohrlach, via Wikimedia Commons 

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