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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ceramic Octopus Travel Mug

I just found the best accessory for a cephalophile on-the-go! Etsy designer, Sarah Constantino turned her love of crafting into a full-time career. Sarah's Etsy Shop, sewZinki is filled with many fun and fabulous handmade treasures, my favorite of which is this snazzy octopus travel mug, which is available in many colors.

Product Description

This hand painted eco-friendly white ceramic travel mug with lid is covered with long tentacled arms of a green octopus. From the depths of the ocean an octopus has crept to wrap it's wiggly arms around your beverage. He will keep watch over your travel mug and make sure would be coffee-snatchers stay away. He's also rather proud of you for choosing a re-usable ceramic mug instead of wasteful paper cups. It keeps his ocean clean.

Hand painted with heat set inks on a creamy white ceramic background. Each one made by me without tracing or templates, so no two will be exactly alike.

Take this 11 oz. double wall insulated mug with you to fill it up with a hot or cold beverage. You'll have original style and be doing your part in reducing landfill waste.

5.75" Tall x 2.25" Base x 3.5" Rim

*******MADE TO ORDER: Please allow 10 business days for mug to be completed due to my production schedule. I ship mugs USPS Priority mail domestically. I also ship internationally.

The paint used in this design is heat set for durability and non-toxic. I recommend hand washing with non-abrasive materials to preserve the color vibrancy. The mugs are micowave safe without the lid on. Paint contains no toxic ingredients and conforms to ASTM D-4236.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Octopus Symposium & Workshop at the Seattle Aquarium!!!

Last week was Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium. Locals had a opportunity to learn about one of the coolest creatures in Puget Sound, the Giant Pacific Octopus. There were daily hands-on activities, octopus feedings, and even a live ocotpus release.

If any Everything Octopus readers paid a visit to the Seattle Aquarium last week, please let us know how it was. You can email me pictures at to be shared with our ceph-loveing community.

Be sure to save the date for the upcoming Octopus Symposium and Workshop at the Seattle Aquarium.

Octopus Symposium & Workshop Presentations and Speakers

Is the GPO the octopus archetype?
Jennifer Mather, University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge, Alberta, B.C.)

Temperature, movements, and anesthesia of giant Pacific octopuses.
David Scheel, Alaska Pacific University (Anchorage, AK)
David Scheel’s student, Alaska Pacific University (Anchorage, AK)

Escaping the Kraken’s Grasp: A Sponge-Scallop Mutualism Possibly Maintained by Octopus Predation
Kirt Onthank, Washington State University (Pullman, WA)

Evidence for inter-sucker coordination during different arm movements in the giant Pacific octopus
Stavros Hadjisolomou

Preliminary results of population genetics analysis of Giant pacific octopuses in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia
Shawn Larson, Seattle Aquarium (Seattle WA)

The Legacy of Olive
Guy Becken, Seattle Aquarium (Seattle WA)
Kathryn Kegel Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, WA)

Close relatives of the giant Pacific octopus
Ian Gleadall, Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scientists Create Robot Octopus Arm

A soft-bodied robotic octopus arm has been created by Italian scientists. The waterproof limb is designed to mimic an octopus appendage as a model for underwater rescue robots of the future.

It's part of a project to create a full-bodied synthetic sea creature which could be used to save people trapped underwater. Check it out!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Polarized Display Sheds Light on Octopus and Cuttlefish Vision – and Camouflage

Written by Katherine Harmon
Originally posted on on February 20, 2012

Octopuses are purportedly colorblind, but they can discern one thing that we can’t: polarized light. This extra visual realm might give them a leg (er, arm) up on some of the competition.

And a team of researchers has created a new way to test just how sensitive cephalopods are to this type of light. Their results were published online Monday in Current Biology.

“We now know that polarization is tuned much more finely than we thought it was,” says Shelby Temple, of the Ecology of Vision Laboratory at the University of Bristol in the U.K., who led the study.

Image courtesy of Shelby Temple

But testing polarized light is tricky, especially since we humans aren’t tuned to see it. As Temple and his co-authors wrote in their paper: “For animals that can see it, the polarization of light adds another dimension to vision, analogous to adding color to a black and white image.” Polarized light is different from what we see in that it comes from a single angle, and animals that can detect it seem to see it in different resolutions based on changes in its angle. (The closest we can get to using it is putting on a pair of polarized lenses to cut down on glare.)

Polarized light perception in the best-tuned animals was assumed to be limited to differences of about 10 to 20 degrees. But in the group’s new experiments, the mourning cuttlefish (Sepia plangon) responded to just 1.05-degrees change of polarized light orientation.

For the experiments, the team used computer screens that had had the polarizing light filter removed (without these front filters on our liquid crystal displays—LCDs—our monitors would project polarized light images that we wouldn’t be able to see).

These modified displays played digital movie versions of “looming stimuli” such as an expanding circle, which would suggest a potential predator approaching. But instead of a color or intensity-based image, the one they created was based on changing polarized light orientation only.

Image courtesy of Shelby Temple

Octopus don’t yet seem to be quite as sensitive as cuttlefish to the fine gradients in polarized light, responding only after about 10 degrees shift. But, says Temple, “it may be the way that we’re testing.” As he points out, cuttlefish’s knee-jerk response to an approaching predator is a quick change of color, which the researchers could use as an indication that they had seen even fine shifts in the polarized light angle.

“Cuttlefish, they wear their emotions on their sleeve, quite literally,” Temple says. “They’re showing everything that they’re doing as a neural response.” In fact, the cuttlefish responded so well, that he and his colleagues thought they were doing something wrong. They were afraid that in the digital renderings they might have accidentally included a non-polarized light clue, such as brightness or intensity. But they went back and checked and found that it was, indeed, just the slight change in polarized light that was frightening the animals.

With octopus, “there’s no comparison,” he says. But, he concedes that it is possible that the octopuses might have seen finer resolutions of polarized light shift but just didn’t have the same simple, speedy reaction as the cuttlefish.

And says Temple, “it could be that some species could do it better than others.” So far, he has found that the blue ringed octopus looks to me more sensitive than the day octopus. He has plans to test different species of octopus soon.

Researchers are still working to get to the bottom of cephalopod vision, which is turning out to be highly complex. And this new work supports the idea that such sensitivity to polarized light emerged precisely because these animals don’t see color well—if at all.

Image courtesy of Shelby Temple

And if octopuses, cuttlefish and squid—and some of their predators and prey—can see polarized light so keenly, are they also using it, as they use color and luminosity, to actively create camouflage?

Other researchers are working on that very question. And Temple and his colleagues have observed that, at least in some cuttlefish, they can create a polarized light-based pattern on their skin. This play in light might “be used as part of a covert communication channel, invisible to animals lacking polarized vision,” they wrote.

But the patterns remain tricky for us to pick up on. For that, Temple and his colleagues have developed a way for us to get a peak into the invisible world of polarized light and dark by modifying a digital single-reflex lens (SLR) camera and creating a computer program to feed false-color into varying degrees of polarized light. These mysterious rainbow-colored ecosystem images make it clear that, “We’re not done with the story yet, for sure,” Temple says.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Octopus Valentines from

I wish I had thought of this sooner so there was time to order these adorable octopus valentines! Nevertheless, these cuties are worth sharing and may inspire you to stock up for next year. Behold, handmade octopus valentines. . .

$4 from Art of Marabelle

I want to be, under the sea, in an octopus' garden... The outside of this valentine card features a print of an original collage using vintage ephemera hand finished and decorated with gold leaf and glitter ink with the inside left blank for your own personal message.

These card designs are my original designs, hand-drawn or collaged, digitally finished, and reproduced with high-quality color prints. I make each card creativity with love & careful attention to detail: cutting, folding, and assembly by hand, and finally hand-decorating with gold leaf ink. It's unfortunately difficult to photograph the gold and glitter properly!

$5 from Heathen Co.

Item details:

- 10 inches tall
- 6.5 inches wide
- Heavy White Cardstock
- Center folded
$4.50 from Fancifone

Originally illustrated greeting cards.

Cute Octopus Valentine card for your lover!
Water Color Illustration
Size: 4.25in by 5.5in
Hand printed on Neenah warm white felt finish, Cover Stock


What will you give your love this Valentine's Day? Anything octopus-inspired? Please share it with the Everything Octopus community, and if you have somethign really special that deserves its own post, email it to

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Darwin Day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Each year the University of Wisnson-Madison celebrates Charles Darwin's birthday with a series of lectures and events relating to evolution and its affects on both biology and society. This year, our favorite cephalopod will be a hot topic of conversation.

The keynote presentation, “Deep-sea octopuses, their origins and lives,” will be given by Janet Voight, associate curator of zoology at the Field Museum in Chicago on Friday, Feb. 10, at 7:00pm. No word on whether it will later be posted online.

For more information on Darwin Day 2012, please visit


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Swimming Octopus Shower Curtain from is a treasure trove of octopus goodies. One of my favorite finds from their site is this fun and fabulous octopus shower curtain.

Product Description
Keep the water in the shower and out of your living space with this awesome Swimming Octopus shower curtain. It is made of white water resistant polyester printed with a huge Octopus and tiny waves.

* 72" x 78"
* Polyester
* Curtain Rings Included


Admit it, getting clean would be so much more fun with this octopus shower curtain!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

National Geographic's Photo of the Day...Can You Guess What it is?

So beautiful, it deserves its own post! This gorgeous octopus photo was featured as "photo of the day" on back in December.

Despite the strong human presence on the coast, an octopus is curious about snow-covered Vesuvius.

Even though they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I don't seem to have any to add. Just wanted to share the octabulous beauty with you all. Thank you to the readers who sent this in!