In this modern day and age of natural history, human beings are now discovering advanced miraculous phenomena about the previously esoteric octopus. Although oceans cover about 71 percent of the earth, it seems that human beings have barely scratched the surface of the immense shallow Atlantic continental shelf of North America, just beyond the south coast of Buzzards Bay. Exploration becomes a trip back in time through a cloudy twilight time zone of almost 3 billion years of evolution. Beneath the surface, the speed of sound is more than five times faster than through the air, the wrecks of ancient ships seem to last forever, and the evolution of species is almost beyond chronological measurement.
Ancient Greek seafaring mariners in 1500 B.C. were known to fear the octopus as a terrifying denizen of the deep depicted in artwork and designs of the period and portrayed as climbing aboard ships to threaten fishermen. Today, the Atlantic octopus inhabits the relatively recluse rocky ledges and reefs of protruding coastlines, as well as shallow tidal pools of the Southcoast.
Occasionally New Bedford scallop dredgers come back into port with one on board, and bottom fisherman have told of pulling one up, foaming from the mouth with a spray of ink as a defensive reaction to a predator. A secretive dweller, it keeps a very low profile minding its own business with very little hostility to shoreline or boating human activity.
My illustration shows a mother octopus turning bright red to face off an eel threatening its young. I have shown its extended arms are covered with white circular adhesive discs to stabilize itself attached to an object or a predator such as an eel. Then it can draw it in closer by muscular contraction. It may also inflict a bite with a razor-sharp blade over its mouth, inflicting an infection that ultimately dissolves its victim.
Recent research and periodicals about the octopus seem to offer an amazing number of possible medical offerings for human use. Specifically is the octopus’ ability of taste through the discs, and an almost superhuman intelligent communication through its behavioral nervous system. They can make use of 168 kinds of sensory awareness cells that make connections of sensitivity for communication. (Humans have 58).
The octopus has three hearts – one systematic to circulate blood through the body, and the other two to pump blood through the gills for breathing. They swim by expelling a jet of water through the mantle siphon into the sea. They have also developed an advanced degree of intelligence with remarkable problem solving ability and primitive tool-using skills. Because of reactive mobility of adaption to changing conditions and locations, they might even be humorously written up as possessing the brainpower of intelligent extraterrestrials.
In captivity they seem to relate to their aquarium keepers. They also demonstrate a capacity to use tools to unscrew a bottle cap or unlock the latch of the fence of their pool to be able to move out of sight.
The reputation of the octopus was previously described as metaphysical, by separating fact from mythical fiction, has now surfaced as a concrete species of natural phenomenon. It is verified as a living specimen of environmental awareness and communication. Thank you for joining me in this subterranean literary adventure in natural history along the shoreline of Buzzards Bay.
By George B. Emmons