You asked and Aly answered!
On behalf of blogopus, I’d like to welcome back guest blogger Aly Busse, the very busy director of school and public programs at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Aly jets by to answer readers’ questions about our favorite cephalopod in periodic Ask Aly postings, so keep them rolling in!
I realize this is a question that may be a bit much for a blog Q&A, but I was wondering if there’s anything that can be done, at this point, to protect the ocean’s ecosystem or help it bounce back before more damage is done?
Aly: This is a big question, but I think it is an incredibly important one! It is very easy to see what is happening in our oceans and on our planet and think the problems are too many and too big and it is too late. The honest answer is that no one really knows for sure if we’ve reached a tipping point.
However, personally, I believe that it is absolutely not too late and many, many scientists and researchers who are much smarter than me agree. The oceans are an incredibly resilient system and can heal if we let them. There are great success stories about damaged areas rebounding once they have been protected. We are in a critical time now, though, for sure. If we don’t all make these changes, at some point it will be too late.
I think being informed about how your actions impact the ocean (and land—it is all connected!) is essential to making needed changes. Simple things like using your powerful consumer dollars to support companies and products that use recycled or reduced packaging or green practices (and even writing to those that don’t!), choosing seafood that is sustainably caught or farmed—a great resource for this is the Seafood Watch Seafood Recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium—and supporting conservation, research, and education efforts. Those are some small actions and changes that create a big impact.
Can you have an octopus as a pet?
Aly: The short answer is yes. However, these animals are quite a bit of work to keep happy and healthy. You wouldn’t just be able to plop one in a fishbowl and feed him some flake food like a goldfish!
First of all, they are incredibly intelligent animals. Octopuses are notorious for being escape artists! As long as their beak fits, they will break out through the smallest of holes. Here is one of my favorite videos demonstrating this:
As for diet, octopuses are very demanding! They need to eat fresh fish, shrimp, crabs, and other pricey seafood—so frequent trips to the fish market would be part of life with a pet octopus.
Octopuses also are not very social and don’t get along with most other creatures (including other octopuses), and would simply eat many other common aquarium animals. You may notice during an aquarium visit that an octopus is put in a tank all alone with lots of rocks and hiding places. In the ocean, they are solitary animals and prefer to be by themselves, hiding under rocks and among the corals.
Octopuses are also very picky about the water they live in—it has to be the perfect temperature, have a precise mixture of nutrients and chemicals in it, and must be tested very often.
Finally, as with any purchase of an animal, you need to make sure you know what exact species it is, where it came from, and if it is in good health before making the decision to buy it!
We are aware that viewpoints on the issues discussed in this posting are as many and varied as the creatures that swim the teeming seas, therefore, as always, we welcome reader comments.