Painful Truth: Cephalopods here and gone

Langley Advance reporter Matthew Claxton gets all squishy in this week's column.

The tale of Inky, a New Zealand octopus and escape artist, has bounced around the world over the last few days.

Inky was brought to the National Aquarium of New Zealand after being accidentally caught by fishermen.

He was loaded into a tank, named, and expected to stay put. Instead, he pushed his way out of the tank, crawled over to a seawater outflow pipe, and off he went.

We’re encouraged to imagine Inky off in the wilds of the South Pacific, jetting about with his suckered limbs trailing behind him like streamers.

And it is pretty cool, but Inky’s escape is likely to be short lived. He’s going to die soon.

Octopuses are one of the most tragic animals of our oceans.

They are one of the smartest critters going. Octopuses can open jars, repeatedly escape from captivity, they can use tools and items for camouflage and will sometimes keep particularly useful items for later. They are curious explorers who seem to have distinct personalities.

They have even been seen apparently playing, something that normally comes up only among large-brained mammals like dogs, cats, and humans. Crows and a handful of birds seem to play, but octopuses? They’re molluscs, boneless and more closely related to common garden snails than to anything with a spinal column.

If octopuses are truly smart, they are the most alien intelligences we have found on this planet.

And that’s the tragic side of this. Octopuses just don’t live that long.

A good-sized species like the common octopus or the Pacific giant octopus (native to our waters) might live as long as five years.

Then they mate. The males waste away within a few months.

The females will lay their eggs, long jewel-like strands of them hanging from the roof of an undersea cavern. The female octopus will guard this nursery while the little octopus embryos grow and develop, cleaning the eggs and blowing water over them.

This intensive care leaves her with no time to eat. The mother octopus died shortly after her eggs hatch, releasing hundreds of thousands of tiny octopuses, most the size of a grain of rice, into the ocean. Most of them will perish before reaching adulthood.

One of the weirdest, most intelligent animals on the planet, and we can’t get the chance to really get to know them…

Read Matthew Claxton’s Painful Truth at LangleyAdvance.com

Just Posted

Langley Thunder stop Shamrocks

The local lacrosse season is close to wrapping up.

Throwback Thursday: July 19, 2018

Can you help us caption a photo from Langley’s past?

Our View: Location matters when it comes to candidates

Those running for civic office should live in the community they want to represent.

Looking Back: July 19, 2018

The community’s history, as seen through the files of the Langley Advance.

VIDEO: New doctors, but fewer spaces for patients in Langley

Retirements have left some Langley residents without a family physician.

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Trump slams Federal Reserve rate hikes

Fed raised benchmark rate for a second time this year in June, and projects two more hikes to come

5 to start your day

Plea for help to find hockey dad’s killer, Langley diver shares story of Thai cave rescue, and more

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

B.C. city wants pot banned from ALR

Mayor and council are concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

Most Read