Octopuses have hundreds of suckers, each one equipped with its own ganglion with thousands of neurons. These ‘mini-brains’ are interconnected, making for a widely distributed nervous system. That is why a severed octopus arm may crawl on its own and even pick up food.
– Frans de Waal
They’re one of the more mysterious creatures in the world, not so much in their difficulty to find and difficulty to see, but in the difficulty of truly understanding how complex these 8 legged critters are and what they’re capable of. They’re truly fascinating in the breadth and scope of their ability to do just about anything. They can solve complex puzzles and fit through spaces not much larger than the mouth of a pop bottle, and even crazier is the idea that each of their arms contains it’s own independent brain… well.. kind of.
World Octopus Day is actually the kick-off date for International Cephalopod Days and is an excellent time to celebrate these fantastic sea-going brain-foots. (Cephalopod – Cephalo – Brain, Pod – Foot). How crazy are these tentacled beasties? Pretty crazy. They have thousands of little suckers on their arms, three hearts that pump it’s cold-adapted blood throughout its body, and an intelligence that seems almost alien in its origins. Top it all off with a family line that goes back well over 300 million years, and these creeptastic walking brains have been around since before Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed the Earth.
So Of Course We Eat Them
Yep, you got it, with a pedigree like that our favorite thing to do with them (Aside from keep them as pets, more on that later) is to eat them. Octopus fishing goes on every year to the tune of 50,000 tons of octopus, which is an intimidating number when you realize we aren’t even certain how many of them there are in the oceans, and have no real good idea of how to even go about measuring their population. This may mean that World Octopus Day has one very important purpose, and that’s raising awareness about Octopus consumption in the culinary world, and a cautioning that we may be in danger of losing a species that may be as intelligent as we are…. Through predation.
If that doesn’t sound like near cannibalism and more than a little creep-show, then you’re in the right mind to spread information about how these amazing creatures function, and that we should all show them a little love. If you want to help preserve the Octopus population and are in the market for a new and interesting pet, you might consider getting yourself a pet octopus. They can be surprisingly loving, decidedly entertaining, but don’t underestimate how clever they are, or you’ll wind up with Willy the Wandering Octopus as a pet.