Things That I’m Obsessed With: Octopus Edition

1) They’re freaky/terrifying as hell and I’m incessantly fascinated most by the things that scare the shit out of me.
2) They’re beautiful. Proof.
3) They’re super intelligent. Nastily advanced nervous systems. You can’t legally operate on them without anesthesia in some countries.
4) They’re kind of autonomous and badass. They’re very free creatures who solitarily roam the open ocean being smart and killing things and adapting in the most impressive ways to survive. I’m jealous of their ability to live in water. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
5) Females die protecting the eggs. Even if the sacrifice is for evolutionary rather than emotional reasons, that still makes them fierce mama bears and I totally respect that.
6) They can eat sharks. WTF!!!!

Articles about octopus behavior/intelligence (basically from just a two second Google search that you could have done for yourself):
What Behavior Can We Expect of Octopuses? I love that there’s a whole website devoted to cephalopods! I bookmarked it immediately.
Through the Eyes of an Octopus Their brain WRAPS AROUND THEIR ESOPHAGUS. That’s weird, yo.
What is this Octopus Thinking?
–  Are Octopuses Smart? I want to have one as a pet. Like a dog. They’re probably totally capable of playing fetch. I’d made it learn all kinds of cool tricks like shake and sit and roll over. Speaking of which…
Behind the Meme: Secrets of Octopus Intelligence More comparisons to dogs.
An Octopus’ Intelligence Compared to the Dog. Even more comparisons to dogs. And sweet jesus, I need to get that book. All those goofy Jacques Cousteau videos we watched in 3rd grade truly made my life.

When one thinks of how long it takes to teach a dog something as simple as sitting up or shaking hands, one must admit that an octopus learns very quickly; and that above all, it teaches itself. We did not show it what to do. With a dog, it takes months of patient work before the animal will do what one wants it to do. The difference between a dog learning and an octopus learning is the difference between training an animal and allowing an animal to exorcise its intelligence in determining the means to be used to overcome an obstacle in certain circumstances.
– Jacques Cousteau, Octopus and Squid: The Soft Intelligence

This is what I envision what my life with an octopus would be like:

Courtesy of Deanna Molinaro. Someday I’m actually going to buy the print because I’ve been wanting it forever.

My biggest fear about having an octopus as a pet is that it would get out of its tank (which they do all the time in captivity because they’re super smart like that) and like creep (like this) into to my bed do evil octopus things in the night while I sleep and I would wake up 2 seconds before my death to feel, in my last moment of life, only sheer octopus-induced terror. Which is ENTIRELY unrealistic but that’s the only thing I’d be able to think about if I had one in my house. Plus, they need the ocean. Seeing them in their little zoo aquarium spaces always makes me kind of joyless. I stare at them forever though so I’m part of the problem by basically reinforcing the fact that zoos have them because people want to see them.

Paul the Octopus had an ok situation, I think. He was adored by the entire world. Paul single-handedly combined my love for octopuses and soccer and I’ll love him forever. RIP, dude.

This is one of my all-time favorite YouTube videos. Pulpos: Suave Inteligencia. That’s freaking ridiculous. The combo of Spanish and octopuses being smart is unbeatable. If I was stranded on a desert island and could only take one YouTube clip, that might be it. Or maybe this. Things that I’m obsessed with: UZoo Channel Edition.

Finally, the thing that sparked this whole entry was the video that Ben sent me today. My first thought was that kayak fishing on the ocean is definitely something I need to do regularly. I feel like it would terrify me and I’m not sure why but that makes me really excited to do it and now I probably won’t stop thinking about it for 3 days. My second thought was some semblance of a freak out regarding what I would do if I caught a goddamn octopus and it’s huge tentacles were 2 inches away from my body while I sat low to the water in my kayak. My third thought was complete devastation that the asshole killed the octopus, even if it was accidental. The lifeless and defeated way it just hung there on the line was traumatic. They’re so beautiful and seeing one like that is the most tragic thing in the world. I really can’t even deal with people who don’t catch and release their fish. Things that probably influence my feelings on the issue: the emotional attachment I have to Hootie my goldfish, the fact that I saw a bluegill struggle and die at my grandparents’ pond at the tender age of four because my cousin couldn’t get it off the hook fast enough, and this (skip to 1:52-2:14). The Little Mermaid also probably significantly impacted my life in other ways but there’s enough discussion in that can of worms for a whole other entry.

Anyway, to conclude, that one YouTube video of the octopus being caught could win an Academy Award for all the emotions it made me feel in two short minutes.

And WHY THE HELL was that creeping octopus on land from the other video delivering that crab to those people? I don’t think anyone will ever know. Octopuses behaviorally are weird and advanced. That’s the take home message here.

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