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

UPDATED: Underground power fault blacks out part of downtown Langley

Electricity was out for a major commercial area.

Aldergrove Mall site becomes election issue

Letter from developers supporting current Township council sparks flurry of responses

WATCH: Less parking, more public space in plans for Langley City’s downtown

Two options for Fraser Highway’s one way section are up for debate.

Retired football kicker wanted play hockey as a kid, but ‘it just wasn’t in the budget’

Surrey-raised Paul McCallum now backs KidSport and its annual fundraiser set for Friday

Cloverdale CHAMP celebrates War Amps on its 100th anniversary

Child Amputee Program provides financial and peer support

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Aldergrove Kodiaks win one, lose one

Junior B hockey squad breaks losing streak with win over Mission Outlaws

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read