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Friday, September 5, 2008

Octopus's Garden Song, Art, and Video

Check out this neat video featuring all mediums of octopus art set to The Beatles tune, "Octopus's Garden".

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ringo was a Romantic: Octopus's Garden Lyrics

The story goes like this: Ringo Starr was on a boating trip with family in 1968. On that trip he was offered octopus for lunch, but turned it down. The boat's captain told Starr that octopuses travel along the ocean floor picking up stones and shiny objects with which to build gardens. Starr claimed that hearing about these creatures spending their days collecting shiny objects was one of the happiest things he had ever heard. It was his inspiration for writing "Octopus's Garden" which was released in 1969 on the Abbey Road LP.

I'd like to be, under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
in his octupus's garden, in the shade.

I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus's garden with me
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade.

We would be warm, below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head, on the sea bed
In an octopus's garden near a cave

We would sing and dance around
because we know we can't be found
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade

We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves
(Lies beneath the ocean waves)
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they're happy and they're safe
(Happy and they're safe)

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden with you
In an octupus's garden with you
In an octupus's garden with you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Betsey Johnson Octopus Jewelry

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the day has come: Octopus bling is finally available!
Check out these stunning pieces in the latest Betsey Johnson collection:

The necklaces and rings have completely sold out and are hot items on Ebay, where buyers are outbidding each other left and right for a shot at sporting these eight armed delights. Visit Ebay
for your chance to score some truly unique, truly fabulous octopus jewelry.

P.S. Should you feel inspired, buy me the ring or the necklace and I'll be your slave for life. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Octopus Sex More Sophisticated Than Arm-Wrestling, Part II

Written by Yasmin Anwar

Caldwell said most of what we know about octopuses comes from laboratory observations of just a few species that are summarized in books such as "Cephalopod Behavior" by Roger Hanlon and John Messenger (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Because they are such bashful sea creatures, octopuses' mating rituals have been hard to get a handle on. "They're obsessively secretive, solitary and pretty spooky," Caldwell said. "If you watch them, they watch you back. It's hard to study them."

So, when UC Berkeley graduate Christine Huffard, now a postdoctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., discovered a thriving community of Abdopus aculeatus while doing her Ph.D. fieldwork in Sulawesi, she was overjoyed.

(Above) A male octopus's hectocotylus, or mating arm, (with pink lining) is inserted into the female's mantle.

"Each day in the water, we learned something new about octopus behavior, probably like what ornithologists must have gone through after the invention of binoculars," said Huffard, the study's lead author. "We quickly realized that Abdopus aculeatus broke all the 'rules' — doing the near opposite of every hypothesis we'd formed based on aquarium studies."

There are nearly 300 species of octopus in the world, ranging from the giant octopus in the Pacific Ocean to the tiny Octopus wolfi in the tropics. Mating is literally an octopus's life's work and can take place several times a day once the animal reaches sexual maturity. It usually begins with the male octopus poking the female with his long, flexible, hectocotylus arm and then slipping it into her mantle cavity.

Once the sperm packet has been deposited, the female retires to her den and lays tens of thousands of eggs, which she weaves into strings and attaches to the roof of her underwater dwelling. She keeps the eggs clean by blowing jets of water on them and is unable to leave her den to forage for food during this time. After about a month, the eggs hatch and the weakened mother octopus dies. The father also dies within a few months of mating, leaving the newborns to fend for themselves.

"It's not the sex that leads to death, Huffard said. It's just that octopuses produce offspring once during a very short lifespan of a year. And as the research team discovered, that once-in-a-lifetime lovemaking session is much more than just arm wrestling.

"This is the first study to show a level of sophistication not previously known in the sexual behavior of an octopus," Caldwell said. "We got it wrong before, and what this tells us is that we need to do a lot more fieldwork."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Octopus Sex More Sophisticated Than Arm-Wrestling, Part I

Written by Yasmin Anwar

For decades, scientists have viewed octopuses as unromantic loners, with mating habits nearly devoid of complex behavior. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, has found that at least one species of octopus engages in such sophisticated lovemaking tactics as flirting, passionate handholding and keeping rivals at arms' length.

(Above) A grey male octopus mates with a female.

For the UC Berkeley study, recently published in the journalMarine Biology, biologists witnessed an array of complex mating behaviors as they snorkeled two meters or less above the shallow reefs of northern Sulawesi in Indonesia. For several weeks, they trackedOctopus Abdopus aculeatus, a diurnal species of cephalopod that typically sports a spiky tan body the size of a small orange and 8-to-10-inch-long sucker-lined arms.

"This is not a unique species of octopus, which suggests others behave this way," said Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley and co-author of the study.

In the wild, researchers observed macho octopuses that didn't just mate with the first female that crossed their path. Many picked out a specific sex partner and jealously guarded her den for several days, warding off rivals to the point of strangling them if they got too close. When flirting or fighting, they would signal their manliness by displaying striped body patterns.

Researchers also saw small "sneaker" males that moved in on unsuspecting conquests by masquerading as females. They did this by swimming low to the ground in feminine fashion and not displaying their "male" brown stripe. Plus, for the males, size really mattered: "If you're going to spend time guarding a female, you want to go for the biggest female you can find because she's going to produce more eggs," Caldwell said. "It's basically an investment strategy."