October 8 is World Octopus Day. The date is part of the International Cephalopod Awareness Days, which run from October 8 to 12 every year. These days are created to spread information about these very little-known and understood animals, and to celebrate their existence. However, although there is much to spread about these wonderful beings, in the case of octopuses in particular there is little to celebrate.
Octopuses have been inhabiting the oceans for around 300 million years and their physiological characteristics are very particular. They have 3 hearts, 8 semi-autonomous tentacles filled with neurons, and cold-adapted blue blood. Because they are invertebrates, their bodies are very malleable and flexible and can fit through very small spaces. Their striking appearance and attitude have attracted the attention of many scientists in recent decades, and the discoveries have helped disprove many myths, not only about invertebrates in general.
Octopuses are extremely intelligent and they are also very sensitive. Like other animals, they are capable of feeling pleasure, joy and sadness and also physical and emotional pain. They are masters of camouflage, extremely curious, like to explore and can use tools. They have been observed throwing and moving objects just for fun, showing that they also enjoy playing.
Although they are mostly solitary, they sometimes work as a team and even make alliances with members of other species to achieve their goals. In addition, as can be seen in the famous documentary “My octopus teacher“, they are able to make friends not only with non-human animals but also with humans.
Due to all these characteristics, along with crabs and lobsters, octopuses have recently been included in the list of animals officially recognized as sentient beings in the United Kingdom.
However, more than 350,000 tons of these amazing animals are killed each year for human consumption, causing a dramatic reduction in their population worldwide. The industry proposes to “solve” the problem of overfishing by setting up octopus farms for the first time to meet the demand for their meat. But this proposal does not take into consideration that octopuses are sentient beings that get stressed easily and much more in crowded conditions due to their associability, so it’s not a true solution. Many scientists have warned of the problems that octopus farming can entail, especially for octopuses, and have taken a position against starting such an unethical industry.
Socially, we cannot allow this to take place. Like other animals, octopuses deserve a dignified and autonomous life. You can help the octopuses and position yourself against their exploitation by stopping consuming them and protesting against the installation of octopus farms.