The Oddly Fabulous Octopus
Otherwise known as ‘squid’, the octopus (the plural is octopuses, even though it sounds like bad grammar) is one of earth’s most fascinating creatures and a mollusc, rather than a crustacean. They can bounce objects (despite having no bones), change colour (they have blue blood), squirt ink and have three hearts. They even often outwit fishermen. The only time alas you see them much is in tanks, as people eat them (sometimes alive). They mostly crawl because although they have three hearts, it stops beating when they swim, so makes them exhausted.
It’s a myth that oysters and shellfish don’t feel pain. Even after an octopus arm has been severed, it still jerks away in pain if pinched. Pro-vivisectionists have even acknowledged that they feel pain.
- Other Minds takes us into the oceans, to see what can we learn from creatures we never see. The octopus is the closest we will ever get to an intelligent alien, so what can we learn from this amazing creature? Peter Godfrey-Smith (a science philosopher and scuba diver) explores how this solitary creature with little social life, become so smart. What’s it like to have tentacles so packed with neurons, they are virtually think for themselves?
- The Soul of An Octopus tells of Sy Montgomery’s fascination with this deeply intelligent species. They are able to bounce objects in the ocean, and love to run around the floor on eight arms. It has a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake and a tongue covered with teeth! They can also change colour and are now ranked in intelligence with dogs, birds and chimpanzees.
Unfortunately, some people now keep octopuses in labs. But what was noticed was that one cuttlefish eventually got used to the people that were often around. He would ‘reliable squirt streams of water at all new visitors’, showing that he knew the difference. Some wild octopuses even ‘walk’ from rockpool to rockpool’, as well as swim and live underwater. They are so intelligent they have been known to unscrew a lid from a jar. One even outwitted a crab fisherman. He laid his trap and the octopus found it, got inside and took off with the caught crabs, for his own dinner instead.
Vegan Squid & Calamari
As mentioned above, not only are these beautiful creatures eaten, but sometimes while alive. Here are some plant-based alternatives (keep away from pets as they contain mushrooms).
- Vegan Calamari (Planticize) is a wonderful recipe by an American chef who lives in Sweden. Made with oyster mushrooms, they are paired with a batter and marinara sauce, with optional vegan vegan garlic mayo.
- Nature’s Charm Vegan Calamari is sold in a tin. Made from mushrooms, capers, seaweed and salt, this can be steamed, grilled, baked or battered.
How Else To Help an Octopus
- Obviously pick up litter, to help keep the oceans clean.
- Join Crustacean Compassion in their work to help all creatures. Although they focus mostly on crabs and lobsters, they also support laws to stop people eating live octopus and better welfare for other cephalopods (octopus, squid/calamari and cuttlefish). They want them included in their own campaign to have all creatures recognise as sentient beings (as happens in many countries abroad) so people can’t boil them alive, nor keep them live in fish tanks before being eaten.