Saturday, December 17, 2011

Octopus escape!

smarty pants photo by neptunecanada 
When it comes to intelligent invertebrates, the octopus is head and--let's say--shoulders above the rest.

Scientists have taught them to run mazes, open jars and small doors, and distinguish shapes, colors, and textures. Captive octopuses recognize specific people (wild ones, too, become friendly with certain divers) and often endear themselves to their keepers. One clever octopus slithered out of its tank at night, ate fish in a nearby aquarium, and then returned to its own tank--confounding the researcher who repeatedly discovered an apparently undisturbed and yet empty fish aquarium.

Captain Rob, an Alaskan fisherman who posts on YouTube, found an octopus in a shrimp trap (it had not only eaten shrimp, it had unscrewed the bait jar and snacked on the shrimp-bait pellets!). In recognition of the creature's "intelligence and genius," states the fisherman, he allowed the mollusk to find its way off the ship to freedom--and filmed it so we could also watch the octopus escape.

7 comments:

  1. wow. i love the education pat! thank you!

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  2. I have always wondered what their arms, especially the suction cups on them, feel like.  I always thought they must be smart cuz they have big heads which I acquaint with big brains.  My head is small.

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  3. Impressive, but can they play Angry Birds on a three-star level?

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  4. When I was at the Marine Biology station in Coos Bay, I had a "pet" octopus for a couple weeks. It had been caught in a net by one of the local fishermen, and he brought it to the station. I had an empty aquarium, so I set up a little habitat for it. It ate crabs and learned to come out of its rock cave when I brought them to it.
    When I let it go it scurried away, then as I sat there with my bowl of little crabs it crawled back toward me, hesitated, then hid under a rock. I left the crabs. The next day I went to retrieve the bowl. It was empty. And, alas, my friend was gone. But it was a very cool experience.

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  5. Such  a very cool post!!  It's humbling to us "top-of-the-food-chain" snobs to learn of  others who can use tools and deduce. (They're probably good story-tellers, too.  Thanks for the education.

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  6. They are curious, too. I've on more than one occasion had one, in a rock pool, stretch out a tentacle to touch my finger which I held at water level above the octopus. I guess this curiosity contributes to their learning and intelligence. And the suckers do feel, well, sucky - just a gentle adhesion. I love them and will never eat them in restaurants.

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  7. These are fascinating (if slightly creepy) animals.  I read a sequel to the book When Elephants Weep, that concerned an octopus.  It told about an octopus who had taken offense at a redhaired assistant.  Whenever she entered the aquarium lab, it would lift up the lid and squirt her.

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