Slippery Sam escapes again…

octopus on the move

I once read something to the effect of looking after a two year old is like having an octopus into a string bag constructed in squares, like a fishing net. Then trying to stop all the tentacles from getting out of the holes !

The amazing octopus is remarkably fast underwater,kind of dancing along on the tips of its tentacles without tripping over them or getting into a knot. How all this is coordinated is quite astounding.

Apparently this all takes nine brains to achieve, kind of network computing way before we even found computers! The main brain is in the head with each tentacle having its own ‘lesser’ brain. Added to this tentacle processing requirement are the hundreds of suckers on the tentacles and as if that’s not enough, there is the fast changing skin camouflage also needing to be controlled.

This is necessary when one has a soft body that offers fish a tasty meal and on that score, a pretty neat defense mechanism exists in the form of black ink for last ditch attempts to escape. In the event of losing an arm the octopus simply grows a new one !

The soft flexible body does provide another advantage though in that our octopus is a notorious escape artist capable of fitting into almost any shape or crack in the rocks. They are notorious for squeezing through small apertures limited only by the size of their beak.

Add to this that an octopus has blue blood and three hearts, two of which pump blood to the gills and the third to the rest of the body. It is truly an amazing creature!

Reproduction is a once off occurrence with multiple males trying to pass on their genes by using a specially adapted arm to place a sac of sperm into the females mantle cavity. This sac may stay there for several months before the female lays any eggs. The month before the female is due to lay her eggs she will stop eating. Then, when she does finally lay the eggs they can be in the order of two hundred thousand at once!

She will then protect the eggs and keep them clean by blowing water over them. The males in the meantime have left and die within a few months of mating, that is if they weren’t eaten during the mating process. The eggs take about two months to hatch by which time the female is pretty close to death.

The babies stay close to the surface and feed on plankton. Approximately two thirds of them are eaten during this stage. It will be months before they can return to the ocean floor where they belong. They then grow fairly quickly and the cycle resumes…

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