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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Octopus Provides Inspiration for Portsmouth Sculptor

From:, February 27, 2009

A two-metre octopus may seem like an unlikely muse, but Blue Reef's Donatella has inspired a Hampshire artist's latest sculpture.

The giant Pacific octopus lives at the Portsmouth aquarium, and was visited several times by Winchester sculptor Alex Jones for research for his latest work.

He has carved a life-size representation of the sea creature from lime wood, which will be on proud display at a collector's New York apartment.

Alex said: 'It took about four months for me to sculpt and getting the chance to meet and touch Donatella was vital – I couldn't have done it without her

'By visiting her I got to see how complicated her skin texture is and the incredible way she moves.'

Blue Reef's Jenna MacFarlane said: 'It's a truly beautiful piece of art and we're all slightly in awe of Alex's extraordinary talent.

'He seemed to have a real empathy for Donatella and did say the opportunity to get up close and personal with her was a tremendous help for him.

'He's managed to capture the essence of the giant Pacific octopus and we hope the sculpture will be around for many, many years to come as a beautiful celebration of it.'

Friday, February 27, 2009

California Aquarium Blames Flooding on Curious Octopus

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Staff at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California say the trickster who flooded their offices with sea water was armed. Eight-armed, to be exact.

They blame the soaking they discovered Tuesday morning on the aquarium's resident two-spotted octopus, a tiny female known for being curious and gregarious with visitors. The octopus apparently tugged on a valve and that allowed hundreds of gallons of water to overflow its tank.

Aquarium spokeswoman Randi Parent says no sea life was harmed by the flood, but the brand new, ecologically designed floors might be damaged by the water.

Mischief and mayhem, that's my kinda' girl.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Sid Headlines!

I just love all these clever headlines about Sid, the recently freed octopus in New Zealand! Here are some of my favorites along with links to the articles:

Randy Octopus Embarks on Date with Death

Escape Artist Octopus Released to Sow his Wild Oats

Octopus Survives Five Days on the Run

Sid is Free, Under the Sea

Go get her, Sid!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lovesick Octopus, Sid, Swims Free

From:, Feb 17, 2009

An amorous octopus has been released from Dunedin's Portobello Aquarium to sow his wild oats at sea.

The octopus, known as "Sid", who was a star attraction of the aquarium, was freed after trying to escape several times.

He was once caught heading for the door after hiding out in a drain, said Tessa Mills, manager at the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre yesterday.

He vanished from his tank late last year, and was missing for five days. He escaped again twice last month, using a drain to seawater tanks outside the aquarium.

"They can be very intelligent, and once they have worked out that there is an escape route, it is difficult to stop them," Ms Mills said.

An octopus could squeeze through any tiny gap larger than its eye, and could be as intelligent as a puppy.

It was likely he was driven by a strong mating instinct, she said.

Aquarium spokesman Peter Bell said: "We expect him to be enjoying life immensely swimming around the harbour and meeting up for a few liaisons with some female octopus out there." He said Sid's "hard and fast" lifestyle would unfortunately come to an end after mating.

"He'll probably swim around for a number of weeks and have a number or partners in that time.

"They tend to die following mating, or in the female's case after they've laid their eggs and they have hatched."


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Legging It: Evasive Octopus Who Has Been Allowed to Look For Love

From:, February 14, 2009

By: Kathy Marks

Visitors to the Portobello Aquarium loved Sid the octopus but all Sid wanted was to find a mate. After several escape attempts worthy of Houdini, he finally tasted freedom yesterday, with his keepers returning him to the ocean just in time for Valentine's Day.

The aquarium, near Dunedin, on New Zealand's South Island, was Sid's home for the past six months. At first, he seemed quite content there. He would move around his tank, exploring his new environment, and would change colour, as octopuses do. But, shortly after Christmas, he developed itchy feet – or tentacles.

Matthew Crane, Portobello's senior aquarist, came in one morning to find Sid gone. Staff looked high and low. One of his tank's sliding plastic doors was ajar but it was not clear whether someone had left it open by mistake, or whether he had opened it himself. Five days later, he was found inside a drainage system that pumps sea water through the aquarium. He was trying to sidle out through a door.

A few weeks later, Sid made a second dash for freedom. Again, his door was found ajar. Located a few hours later, he made several more escape attempts, usually when his tank was being cleaned. Staff would see one tentacle emerge from the tank, then another. "We thought he must be actively seeking a mate," said Mr Crane. "So we decided it might be best to let him go back to nature."

Sid gliding along in his tank.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Crane transferred Sid to a plastic bucket and carried him to the water's edge, 300 yards away. Even during that short walk, Sid was trying to lift the lid off the bucket. Then he was ceremoniously dumped in the ocean. "We watched him swim away," said Mr Crane. "He was a good healthy colour and he looked quite happy."

Octopuses live for about two years, and breed towards the end of their life cycle. So Sid, who was about nine months old when caught, would be of an age now to be looking for love. Mr Crane wishes him every success. "He's a common octopus, so we're pretty confident he'll find a mate. It's a species that's often seen in the harbour."

Mr Crane said that Sid might have watched the door to his tank being opened often enough to figure out how to do it himself. Or, after it was left ajar the first time, he might have realised it was a means of escape. "An octopus is quite intelligent, so it's not beyond the scope of believability," Mr Crane said. "Some people compare them with dogs, because you can train them to open a jar, for instance, particularly if it's got a crab in it."

A few years ago, he said, crayfish kept disappearing from the aquarium. Staff were perplexed, and blamed impecunious marine biology students. Then, one night, one of Sid's predecessors was caught in the act. He climbed out of his tank, stole the crayfish, replaced the lid on the crayfish tank, then returned to his own tank, shutting the door behind him.

A research laboratory reported a similar story, with a security camera filming an octopus stealing fish from a neighbouring tank and then covering his tracks. Ten years ago, an octopus escaped from the same tank that housed Sid, and was found halfway up a staircase. He was nicknamed Harry, after Harry Houdini. Octopus, like squid, have courtship rituals, which include changing colour. Mr Crane said he had seen squid "split themselves in half, colour-wise, with one half an attractive light colour to appeal to a mate and the other half an aggressive dark red colour to chase away other males".

The aquarium has put out fresh pots to catch a replacement for its wandering would-be Lothario.

The clever clogs of the ocean floor

*Octopuses are considered to be one of the most intelligent marine species. Their brain is the largest and most advanced of any invertebrate.

*Until recently, it was widely believed that they had eight arms. However, last year a European study discovered that they actually have six arms and two legs. They use their rearmost tentacles to push off from the surface of the sea bed before propelling themselves through the water with the other limbs.

*During the same experiment, it was discovered that the animals could perform complex tasks with their arms, such as manipulating a Rubik's cube. Uniquely, octopuses have more than half their nerves in their arms and even partially think with them.

*It is believed that an octopus's memory and learning capabilitycan be compared in complexity to that of advanced vertebrates – a number of octopuses have been taught to unscrew jars or bottles to get at food.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Celebrate Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium

It's the Ninth Annual Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium! Get out of the house during President's Day Weekend and mid-Winter break. Head on over to the Seattle Aquarium to learn about one of the coolest creatures in Puget Sound - the Octopus! Highlights include:

Ø Octopus Blind Date on Saturday, 2/14 at noon. Witness what happens when sixteen arms, six hearts (three hearts each) and two giant Pacific octopuses meet on Valentine’s Day. Aquarium biologists set the mood with decorative hearts, roses and romantic music at the Octopus Exhibit. But it’s up to the octopuses to decide whether or not love is in the water!

Ø Live octopus release on Sunday, 2/15 at noon

Ø Daily hands-on activities for kids, octopus feedings and talks

Ø Meet the Octopus Expert, Dr. Roland Anderson, on Wednesday, 2/18 at 11:00am

Ø Divers swimming with an octopus in the new Window on Washington Waters exhibit on 2/17, 2/19 & 2/21 at 11:30am

Ø Ninth annual giant Pacific octopus census 2/14-2/16. Puget Sound divers are asked to search for and report all octopus sightings to Aquarium staff over the three day weekend.

For a ceph-love like myself, this would be a very romantic Valentine's Day date spot!

Hubba, hubba, who wants some octopus lovin?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Video of Blue-Ringed Octopus

Check out this video of a Blue-Ringed Octopus. It's really cool to see how its appearance changes from when it's "at rest" to when it feels threatened - those blue rings flare up! Truly a marvel of mother nature...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Octopus Poem: Pirouette of the Octopus

It has come to my attention that there has been a sore lack of poetry on Everything Octopus. I think it's time to change that! Here's a poem written by Lisa Bergman, after her passion for octopuses was awakened by PBS's "The Octopus Show".

Your arms outstretch-
A radiant star bursting in the ocean.
A gymnast in waters-
Such elegance and power!
Your mysterious intelligence
Excites the curiosity.
From the deepest oceans to the shallowest streams
I know your dances I always will see.

If only all could know
Your beauty, strength, and mind
And see the works of God's hands in you
Right before their very eyes.

-- Lisa Bergemann, 2001

Friday, February 6, 2009

Adorable Handmade Plush from

This is the cuteness! Check out this beautiful handmade plush from Etsy seller, Hansigurumi. In addition to the vermilion octopus below, there are a slew of others including a blue octopus, Dumbo Octopus, and various patterns for your very own octopus creations. Other animals are available too, but who cares when there's OCTOPUSES!!!

Product Description
Who would make a sweeter companion than this sanguine cephalopod, aglow with fiery volcanic charm?

This is a hansigurumi original plush creation, handcrafted with precision and love, swathed in mottled hues of vermillion, maroon, cerise, cinnamon, and goldenrod. Hand-knitted a hefty size in luscious wool yarns, this sweet creature is a perfect treat for yourself or that special octopus enthusiast in your life!

From a smoke-free and pet-free home. Please note that this creature is intended for display purposes and gentle handling, and is not an appropriate toy for small children.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Video of Dumbo Octopus Under Observation

Check out this video of a Dumbo Octopus at the Microbial observatory for Fe-oxidizing bacteria at Loihi Seamount Hawaii. The way it moves is so beautiful and unique!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Species: Grimpoteuthis or Dumbo Octopus

The octopuses of the genus Grimpoteuthis are also known as "Dumbo Octopuses" from the ear-like fins protruding from the top of their head-like bodies, resembling the ears of Walt Disney's flying elephant. They are benthic creatures, living at extreme depths: 3000-4000 meters, and are some of the rarest of the Octopoda species. They can flush the transparent layer of their skin at will, and are pelagic animals, as with all other cirrate octopuses, and unlike many other incirrate octopuses.

They hover above the sea floor, searching for worms, bivalves, pelagic copepods, and other crustaceans. They move by pulsing their arms, shooting water through their funnel, or by waving their ear-like fins. They can use each of these techniques separately or all simultaneously. The males and females are different in their size and sucker patterns. The females lay eggs consistently, with no distinct breeding season.

  • Dumbo Octopuses are found at considerable depths, typically living from 100-5,000m depth, although one was sighted at 7,000m, the deepest depth of any cephalopod.

  • There are about 37 species, currently assigned to four genera. Many are poorly understood.

  • Dumbo Octopuses can grow to 20cm.

  • They are found in every ocean.

  • This creature is typically benthic, living on or close to the bottom of the ocean floor, though some may be found some meters from the seabed where they drift, with arms outspread.

  • These deep-dwelling octopus swim by flapping their large ears and/or by expansion and contraction of their webbed arms. They are graceful swimmers and capable of rapid escape when threatened.

  • Bottom-dwelling species eat crustaceans, worms and bivalves. Those hovering above the bottom tend to eat pelagic copepods. They are unusual in that they mainly swallow prey whole.

  • The Dumbo Octopus swims by flapping its large ears and/or by expansion and contraction of its webbed arms. They are graceful swimmers and capable of rapid escape when threatened.