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Curious Octopus Floods Aquarium

 
 
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 06:06 pm
Curious Octopus Floods Aquarium

Quote:
For one dexterous octopus, an attempt at a great escape turned into a great flood Thursday at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California.

The female California two-spotted octopus swam to the top of her tank, disassembled a valve with her powerful arm, and released at least 200 gallons (757 liters) of seawater into nearby exhibits and offices.

The foot-long (0.3-meter) creature remained in her tank and survived her ordeal. But the aquarium's brand-new floors weren't so lucky.

Such high jinks are typical of the invertebrates' still unexplained smarts, experts say.

"Octopuses have a wonderful combination of intelligence, tremendous manipulative ability, curiosity, and strength," said Jennifer Mather, a psychology professor at Canada's University of Lethbridge who has studied cognition in octopuses.

"So the result is that everybody who has ever kept octopuses has a string of stories about how octopuses can go where they want in aquariums."

Unbelievably Brainy?

Many octopuses show behavior that suggests curiosity, consciousness, and even a sense of humor, said Eugene Linden, author of the 2002 book The Octopus and the Orangutan: More True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity.

In one instance, an octopus given a slightly spoiled shrimp stuffed it down the drain while maintaining eye contact with its keeper, Linden said.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 2,672 • Replies: 10
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 06:08 pm
There are certainly enough interesting stories involving octopi (several of which I've read here on a2k) to validate the notion of their intelligence and curiosity.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 06:13 pm
I for one am happy to know these creatures cannot survive on dry land, which limits the scope of their curiosity.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 06:20 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
In one instance, an octopus given a slightly spoiled shrimp stuffed it down the drain while maintaining eye contact with its keeper, Linden said.



Laughing
0 Replies
 
NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 11:12 pm
I think the octopus knew what it was doing. It was a deliberate act of sabotage. It should be lock up in a tank for the rest of its life!
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:20 am
@NickFun,
That's probably its thoughts exactly, "So, what are they going to do? Lock me up in a tank for life?"
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:37 am
@roger,
roger wrote:

That's probably its thoughts exactly, "So, what are they going to do? Lock me up in a tank for life?"


We could eat the ill-behaved.

A little barbecued octopus on site might make them think about their sense of humour.

roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:56 am
@dlowan,
Is it anything like cuttlefish? I ate a piece of dried cuttlefish, once. I put it in my mouth and chewed. And chewed, and chewed. Swear to god, it kept getting bigger and bigger.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 01:07 am
@roger,
Good Goddess!!!

Have you never eaten octopus???


It is like calamari, only bigger and more strongly flavoured. You barbecue it, or pickle it and such...

Delicious.

I don't think I can eat them any more, though, with all this stuff about intelligence and sense of humour.

If chooks and ordinary fish turn out to be brighter than I think, it's tofu for me.

Of courrse dried cuttle fish got bigger...it was absorbing moisture from your saliva, and reconstituting normal cell size.

I suspect cuttlefish and squid are related...dunno about octopii....but they all have tentacles.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:08 pm
They should put all the overly curious octopi in a maximum security tank together, give them lots of toys, and see what happens.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 03:47 pm
I keep reading fascinating things about octopuses. Them's smart.

Here's a new one:

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6474

Excerpt:

Quote:
But now, increasingly, researchers who study octopuses are convinced that these boneless, alien animals—creatures whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago—have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities. Their findings are challenging our understanding of consciousness itself.

[....]

Occasionally an octopus takes a dislike to someone. One of Athena’s predecessors at the aquarium, Truman, felt this way about a female volunteer. Using his funnel, the siphon near the side of the head used to jet through the sea, Truman would shoot a soaking stream of salt water at this young woman whenever he got a chance. Later, she quit her volunteer position for college. But when she returned to visit several months later, Truman, who hadn’t squirted anyone in the meanwhile, took one look at her and instantly soaked her again.

[....]

WHILE ALEXA WARBURTON was researching her senior thesis at Middlebury College’s newly created octopus lab, “every day,” she said, “was a disaster.”

She was working with two species: the California two-spot, with a head the size of a clementine, and the smaller, Florida species, Octopus joubini. Her objective was to study the octopuses’ behavior in a T-shaped maze. But her study subjects were constantly thwarting her.

The first problem was keeping the octopuses alive. The four-hundred-gallon tank was divided into separate compartments for each animal. But even though students hammered in dividers, the octopuses found ways to dig beneath them—and eat each other. Or they’d mate, which is equally lethal. Octopuses die after mating and laying eggs, but first they go senile, acting like a person with dementia. “They swim loop-the-loop in the tank, they look all googly-eyed, they won’t look you in the eye or attack prey,” Warburton said. One senile octopus crawled out of the tank, squeezed into a crack in the wall, dried up, and died.

It seemed to Warburton that some of the octopuses were purposely uncooperative. To run the T-maze, the pre-veterinary student had to scoop an animal from its tank with a net and transfer it to a bucket. With bucket firmly covered, octopus and researcher would take the elevator down to the room with the maze. Some octopuses did not like being removed from their tanks. They would hide. They would squeeze into a corner where they couldn’t be pried out. They would hold on to some object with their arms and not let go.

Some would let themselves be captured, only to use the net as a trampoline. They’d leap off the mesh and onto the floor—and then run for it. Yes, run. “You’d chase them under the tank, back and forth, like you were chasing a cat,” Warburton said. “It’s so weird!

[....]

Data from Warburton’s experiments showed that the California two-spots quickly learned which side of a T-maze offered a terra-cotta pot to hide in. But Warburton learned far more than her experiments revealed. “Science,” she says, “can only say so much. I know they watched me. I know they sometimes followed me. But they are so different from anything we normally study. How do you prove the intelligence of someone so different?”


and this is downright freaky:

Quote:
“It is as if each arm has a mind of its own,” says Peter Godfrey-Smith, a diver, professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and an admirer of octopuses. For example, researchers who cut off an octopus’s arm (which the octopus can regrow) discovered that not only does the arm crawl away on its own, but if the arm meets a food item, it seizes it—and tries to pass it to where the mouth would be if the arm were still connected to its body.
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