I’m Sid, a common Sydney octopus. I live off Australia in an area nicknamed “Octopolis” by humans.
A whole bunch of us octopuses live in this sandy area. There’s this one octopus, let’s call him “George,” who tries to mate with me.
One day he was particularly persistent. My eggs weren’t ready for fertilizing that day, so I resisted his advances. But he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
So I threw silt at him using a stream of water from my siphon. My siphon is a wondrous contraption—it helps me move when I shoot a jet of water out of it, helps me excavate my den, get rid of waste (my own and food debris) and also get rid of unwanted males!
I shot water out of my siphon and aimed it towards the silt beneath me and voila! A sand storm was directed towards George.
But he wasn’t getting the picture. I sent more silt flying towards him once the current took away my first try.
I’ve got to hand it to him, he ducked at least four times and was successful at dodging on two. I hurled silt ten times and hit him on 5 occasions. After the tenth time, he finally got that I wasn’t interested.
George threw a shell out into the ocean in frustration. We octopuses don’t retaliate (shh! at least the humans haven’t seen us do that!).
But here’s the exciting news about octopuses throwing things and targeting one another. Only a “handful” of other species, including chimpanzees, actually target individuals of the same species.
Not bad company for a mere invertebrate, huh? We only make up 97% of all animals…
Hello my name is Ollie the Octopus. Unlike my counterpart featured in the Netflix documentary “My Octopus Teacher,” I have a name. I’m male though, and she was female—she laid eggs at the end of her life. While I wouldn’t have minded mating with her, we live halfway around the world from each other—her off of the South Africa coast, and me off of the California coast off of the USA.
We’re not villains!
So what does an octopus think of a documentary? Well, I’ve never watched TV, so I can only speak through my human translator (or is she an octopus translator?). I’m just glad we octopuses are not just thought of as villains (see Ursula in the Little Mermaid), food (octopus bowls in Japanese restaurants) or as slimy, disgusting creatures.
Octopuses are clever and intelligent!
We are now seen as the clever, intelligent and incredible creatures that we are, woo hoo! From what I’m told, some humans were horrified or disappointed that Craig Foster didn’t try and save his octopus teacher from a shark attack. He didn’t want to mess with nature.
Messing with nature?
But he did. He permanently scared her from one den at the beginning of their “friendship,” and continually put her life in possible danger when interacting with her. And especially when taking her to the surface when he took a much-needed breath of fresh air, he was exposing her to possible predators.
Changing natural behaviors?
But that she decided to interact with Craig at all was her decision. She could have stayed hidden and there would have been no documentary. Having her life permanently captured digitally was well worth any risk to her life. Did it change any of her natural behaviors? It did, but the time Craig spent with her was small in comparison to the time she spent being “wild.”
Octopuses love enrichment!
You wouldn’t have empathy for me otherwise, nor would you like to hear about how octopuses in captivity solve puzzles and open jars and boxes for food. Or how we “play” with objects in our tank (placing an object in the stream of water in our tank over and over).
We’re, um, cannibals
But you probably didn’t know that we can be cannibals, which I think makes octopus farming a tricky and controversial venture. Not to mention how it complicates the mating game!
We’re camouflaging machines!
We camouflage out of instinct—we’re color blind—but use our wits not to get eaten. We can change color, texture and shape. After all, we’re just a boneless protein snack to any mouth larger than us!
We octopuses are often compared to alien beings. Why humans continue to search for life in space when 95% of the ocean is unexplored by humans or ROV’s (remotely operated vehicles) is beyond me. Octopuses have been eaten forever, yet true empathy for us took until this documentary. What other wonders do the oceans hold for humans?
You can help!
So what can you do for the ocean? Well, less than one digit % of all donations to nonprofits go to ocean conservation charities. Check Charity Navigator for a reputable nonprofit to donate to. A good one is Craig Foster’s nonprofit Sea Change Project and the Sea Save Foundation (My human volunteered there!)
Thanks for reading My Octopus Teacher review. Do you have any questions for me? I’ll answer them in any future blog posts.
Congratulations to My Octopus Teacher for winning many international awards, including the BAFTA for best documentary. Good luck at the Academy Awards!
Here are the Cephalopod Awareness Days we are celebrating: October 8 is Octopus Day (my favorite!), October 9 is (Chambered) Nautilus Day, October 10 is Squid and Cuttlefish Day, October 11 is Myths and Legends, and October 12 is Fossils and Extinct Species (Vampire Squid fit here as “living fossils”, they have been in the news lately, perhaps you have heard that they eat feces and corpses in the deep sea?)
In honor of Octopus Day, I thought I would go over the “State of the Oceans.” Since I’m no orator (I have no vocal cords), you’ll have to settle for my thoughts.
Right now there are 3 major issues facing the ocean today:
1. Global Warming
Whether or not you believe global warming is currently happening, or that it is humans that are causing it, the effects of global warming have been shown over geologic time (i.e. longer than humans have inhabited the earth). Global warming causes seawater temperatures to rise, which can have devastating effects on all wildlife, especially on corals. For more on coral bleaching see my last post.
Due to global warming, sea level rises faster than usual due to the melting of the polar ice caps. Ocean acidification occurs because of all the extra carbon dioxide that the ocean absorbs, and it causes seawater to become more acidic (like soda or orange juice). It mainly affects those animals that have calcium carbonate skeletons, especially the plankton at the bottom of the food chain. For more on that read Terry the Pteropod’s post on ocean acidification.
Pollution comes in many forms, including chemical (like fertilizer runoff and industrial waste), and physical (like garbage or silt). Garbage is the most insidious form of pollution in the oceans. It consists mainly of plastic in all shapes and forms. Plastic never biodegrades, and all the plastic that has ever been produced is still around today (unless it was incinerated). For more, read my previous post on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Overfishing is happening all around the world in all the world’s oceans. Every single country that fishes is catching more fish than can be replaced by the birth rate of new fish. This means that most marine animals eaten as seafood are being fished unsustainably! For more information on overfishing, please watch the documentary The End of the Line.
Once again, I’m out of time. I’ll be back soon to discuss more pressing ocean issues. Please hug a cephalopod today! Or at least abstain from eating us or buying our shells (see Shelley the chambered nautilus’ post), thank you!!
Today I wanted to discuss a recent study I was told about (I’m may be smart, but I still can’t read!). This scientific study concluded that in past 30 years, half of the Great Barrier Reef (off of Australia) is gone. While I live on the same small patch of coral reef inside my cozy den, I still need live coral reefs to house and attract the food I eat!
Why did the Great Barrier Reef die? There are many reasons why, including:
Coral bleaching is when the symbiotic photosynthetic zooanthellae living in corals expel themselves. They essentially commit suicide. These zooanthellae are very important to the corals, as in return for shelter, they produce food (like plants on land) for the coral. Without the zooanthellae, the corals are more likely to starve to death and die (bleach).
What causes the zooanthellae to die? The most likely culprit is a rise in seawater temperature due to global warming. So what can be done to keep the coral from bleaching? The most important thing humans can do is reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.
The good news is that some scientists are trying to revive bleached coral reefs by implanting live coral fragments onto them. Scientists have also attracted new coral growth to many bleached areas by running low-voltage electricity through a metal grid.
Why are coral reefs important? They are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth. In fact, 1 in 4 fish found in the ocean lives on a coral reef! And coral reefs only cover 0.1 percent of the earth’s surface!
I’m out of time, so I will cover the other culprits of coral bleaching another day. Ollie the octopus, signing off.