Ocean of Hope

Octopuses Throw & Target Things At One Another

Octopuses Throw and Target Each Other

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 and targeting things at 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…

For more information see the New Scientist’s “Female Octopuses throw things at males that are harassing them”

Also see “10 Interesting Octopus Facts”

Meet Tusk, the Narwhal Whale Accepted by Belugas

narwhal whale
Narwhal gets accepted by beluga pod! By A. Thorburn

Narwhal whales–Unicorns of the Sea

I am Tusk, and I’m a young male narwhal whale. I am unique among all the whales because I have a very long horn. It resembles a unicorn horn. But I’m real narwhal whale, and they’re not!

My tusk!

It’s one really long tooth, up to about half my body lengths—we narwhals can grow up to 17 feet long and our tusk can be over 10 feet long! I only have two teeth, but that one tooth is truly magnificent! It is sensitive with nerve endings—up to 10 million of them. I can use it to hit and stun fish, and then eat the fish before they can swim away.

Narwhal whale tusks have many uses, and humans suppose we use them for attracting mates, as a weapon, to open holes in the ice or to sense temperature and pressure. But shh! I’m not one to give away the narwhal whale’s secrets—I’ll let you clever humans figure out what we really use our tusks for!

I loved my life in the icy Arctic waters with my pod of 20 narwhal whales. Life was good as we ate plenty of cod and halibut and I loved seeing all the wildlife around like belugas, walruses and seals.

I’m lost!

But one day I wandered too far away from my pod. So far away they couldn’t hear my sounds, and I could no longer hear theirs. They were a noisy bunch, so I must have wandered very far away.

I did the only thing I knew to do, which was to swim. Crying out now and then, I only got silence back. I swam for months before I came to the St. Lawrence River. I could tell by the salinity difference that I wasn’t at home anymore. Estuaries are less salty than the ocean because of freshwater diluting the saltwater.

I was hungry, lonely, and sad. I missed my pod and my old Arctic home. Little did I know, but around a bend was a whole pod of male beluga whales.

My saviors, the Belugas!

Belugas are strange, as they don’t have tusks and are all white. I’m mottled gray in comparison. Belugas are known as the canaries of the sea because they chatter so much more than narwhals!

It was fortunate we all met, or else I wouldn’t have known where or how to catch food in this new area. I swam with them for a few days, just to see if they would accept me as their own. When they let me hunt with them, I knew I was at least temporarily accepted.

I had to learn their clicks and whistles, as they didn’t understand mine. We’ve gotten to know each other well this past year, and I feel like I’m one of the gang. I think some belugas are even jealous of my tusk!

This is a fictional story based on real-life events as seen in the National Geographic documentary, “Secrets of the Whales” streaming on Disney+

Also see 10 Cool Facts About Narwhal Whales

Facts from:

World Wildlife Fund Unicorn of the Sea—Narwhal Facts

Animal Fact Guide—Narwhals

Wikipedia entry on Narwhals

My Octopus Teacher Review by Ollie the Octopus

my octopus teacher review
My Octopus Teacher review by Ollie the Octopus

My Octopus Teacher Review

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!

Unexplored ocean

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 and Academy Award for best documentary!

Also see: Ollie the Octopus and the Definition of Ocean Acidification

How Does Whale Poop Fight Climate Change?

blue whale poop, whale poop
Blue whale poop by Ian Wiese

Did you know that whales are climate change fighting machines? If saving them for their majesty and beauty wasn’t enough, whales actually help fight climate change. This is due to whale poop, of all things.

Blue Whale Poop

Take the largest animals to roam the Earth, present day or past, the blue whales. Blue whales reach lengths of 100 feet and 190 tons. When they poop, they release the by-products of the krill they eat.
Essentially whale poop is fertilizer for the plants of the ocean, the phytoplankton. The phytoplankton, wherever the blue whale migrates to, are stimulated to grow. They, like terrestrial plants, use carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The less of it in the air, the better it is for planet Earth and its warming climate.

Phytoplankton thanks

The phytoplankton take sunlight and carbon dioxide and turn it into food and oxygen. Take a breath and sigh it out. Take another breath and exhale. One of those breaths is thanks to phytoplankton growing in the ocean! Thanks phytoplankton!

Whale migration

Whales are constantly swimming and migrating to new places in search of food. Along the way they poop out nutrients and voila, the phytoplankton begin to grow and nourish the bottom of the food chain there. The phytoplankton grow where they wouldn’t have otherwise without whale poop and the critters in those spots benefit.

Nutrients brought up from depths

Whales also dive in search of food-think of a sperm whale fighting a giant squid for a meal-and bring up nutrients from the ocean depths and deposit them at the surface where phytoplankton live and grow.

Whale falls

Although it’s sad to think about, whales die and sink to the sea floor. One whale body can bring 190,000 tons of carbon (equivalent to the emissions of 80,000 cars in a year) from the surface to the sea floor. This is a part of carbon sequestration, which just means capturing carbon somehow and taking it out of the air. In this case it means taking carbon from the surface (the whale) and depositing it on the sea floor. There many animals benefit from eating and scavenging the whale, and the carbon gets deposited and stays there.

Whale poop and Fisheries

Last, but not least, whales and their poop can help enhance fisheries. There will be higher rates of food productivity in places where whales feed and give birth. The whale poop stimulates the phytoplankton at the bottom of the food chain, and fish at the higher levels of the food chain benefit and grow and reproduce.

So, while being magnificent in their own right, whales and their poop are climate change fighters!

Did you know sea otters also help fight climate change?

Whale poop and climate change: here’s what you need to know by National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Blue Whale Caught on Camera Having a Poo

Book Review: Wild Survival-Crocodile Rescue! By Melissa Cristina Márquez

Crocodile Rescue! book by Melissa Cristina Márquez
Book Review: Wild Survival-Crocodile Rescue! by Melissa Cristina Márquez

Wild Survival: Crocodile Rescue! By Melissa Cristina Márquez is a charming and entertaining middle grade (ages 8-12 years old, 3-7 grade) eco-adventure novel. The protagonist is 12-year-old Adrianna Villalobos, a spunky and intrepid explorer who’s quite clever. Her Afro-Latinx family includes her mother, father and adopted older brother Feye.

The Villalobos family owns a wildlife sanctuary and zoo. They are the new stars of a wildlife rescue TV show Wild Survival! The family is tasked with finding and rehabilitating an injured crocodile in Cuba. The show producer, Mr. Savage is also on the lookout for a fabled mega-croc to sensationalize on the TV show.

Adrianna has to prove to her parents that she’s not too young—or irresponsible—to be on camera. Soon after arriving in Cuba, Adrianna puts her brother’s life in danger while he is tagging a croc. She then has to regain her parents’ trust after being put back behind-the-scenes.

Her impulsiveness gets her into trouble, but she is clever and sometimes wise beyond her years to get herself out of any sticky situations she finds herself in. Readers will identify with her universal insecurities and root for her growing confidence. They might agree with Adrianna that her parents are being overprotective, but understand that it’s just for her own safety.

The relationship between Adrianna and her older brother is very realistic and they have their ups and downs throughout the book. One of the highlights of the book is when they go out on their own on a boat adventure. You’ll find yourself rooting from them to save something important, despite the fact they don’t have their parent’s approval. The parents are stern but understanding when they arrive back at the dock.

The antagonists are the poachers which make a brief appearance in the book, and in a way the show producer, Mr. Savage. He is always going for the sensational shot. This doesn’t sit well with Adrianna’s parents, who are rightly protective of their children as well as their own safety.

This middle grade novel has just the right amount of detail that you feel like you’re in Cuba for the first time with Adrianna and her family. The factual pages scattered throughout the book about animals, plants and habitats are short but sweet, and the back matter very informative. I like how there’s a glossary of Spanish terms spoken in the book in the order that they appear. I learned a lot of new Spanish words and phrases.

I like how Melissa Cristina Márquez’s own adventure with a crocodile made its way into the book, as it adds an air of realism to the story. I felt my heart pound when Adrianna had her fateful nighttime encounter with a croc.

There’s never a dull moment in Crocodile Rescue! Kids who like animals and nature will love the book, and those who think they don’t will be drawn into the Villalobos family’s thrilling adventures in Cuba.

The next book in the series, Wild Survival: Swimming with Sharks comes out July 6, 2021 and I can’t wait to read and review it!

Also see my interview with the author, Melissa Cristina Márquez

More facts on crocodiles from Fact Animal
And more on sharks:
10 Interesting Great White Shark Facts

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