Looking around Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe, I observed quite a few
females reaching out in various biomechanical elongations of upper limbs, in
order to select the multifarious gastronomic goodies which are temptingly on
Oddly enough, I had just been reading Michelle Warwicker‘s report for the
BBC on female octopuses who apparently go to extraordinary lengths in
their extensions to reach food.
The image of Nigella’s night-time fridge raids came to mind, for some
Clammie joined me within a few seconds and we were able to further monitor
the rapid placing of personal articles on spare chairs by grasping tentacles,
evidently adapted to reserving space for feeding and communicative activity.
The environment and lifestyle of cephalopods means that they have to be
capable of complex and flexible behaviour. A study from Macquarie University
revealed episodic personality, which seemed to suggest that the creatures
relied on visual signals when interacting.
Of course, there are Dumbo octopuses too and the Incirrate species favour
shallow habitats. Maybe I belong to the hyponym group, who squirt ink when
There might even be a kind of class system going on, as hemocyanin means
that blood can be a bluish colour. Some of the species that I have seen
frequenting Suttonford’s aquarium of life, red in tooth and claw, certainly
create the impression that such a fluid is coursing through their forms.
All octopuses can squeeze through small spaces, so this is a useful adaptation
when tables are few and vacant chairs far between. Being an invertebrate is a
useful quality when the pressure of increased population density squeezes
personal space. Of course many go on seasonal migrations when life gets too
Males of the octopus vulgaris species are thought to reserve their extending
hectocotyli-don’t ask!- for mating purposes, while females utilise the stretch
for acquiring food. This would appear to contradict the hierarchy of need in
most males’ taxonomy, as far as I construe.
What’s for tea? is usually the first and perhaps sole utterance of the standard
male returning from forages on the sea bed.
Spag bol, the female tends to reply, if he is lucky. She then extends an arm to
the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard in order to conceal her private cache of
Mini-eggs, simultaneously affecting a wiping gesture with a J-cloth over the
polished coral worktops, in order to give the impression that she has been busy
all day in domestic chores, rather than floating around, with the odd billowing
Other tentacles are briskly shoving designer carriers under the spare bed.
But, at the end of the day, males are simple to please: give them Octopussy
any time and they will go off quietly to their own habitat and then females can
happily congregate in their designated reef areas for superior social activities.
Don’t be complacent about them, warned Clammie. They look pretty,
but-remember- all octopuses are venomous!
Including us! I said, popping a marshmallow into my mouth.
Especially us! she agreed.
But we camouflage it, don’t we?
Not entirely, she said and I think there are those who would agree.