According to the internet, #cephalopodweek takes place either in June, or right now. Or maybe it’s both! Can we properly appreciate cephalopods in just a single week? DEFINITELY NOT.
I have a lot of feelings about cephalopods, to the point where I can no longer eat delicious calamari. So it is my great honour and privilege to share with the world my Top 5 Best Cephalopods Ever.
5. An unnamed octopus of antiquity
Roman author Aelian (aka Claudius Aelianus) shared the tale of this excellent, enterprising cephalopod in his work, De Natura Animalium:
Accordingly, through a certain hidden sewer that discharged the refuse of the aforementioned city into the sea, it swam up to a house lying by the sea, where Iberian merchants stored their cargo, pickled fish from that region in stout vessels; and so it threw its tentacles and gripped the earthenware so that the vessels were broken, and consumed the pickled fish.
This story has a sad ending: the merchants lie in wait for their thief, and after a false start (aka a servant going, “I AIN’T FIGHTING THAT THING ALONE!”), they kill it. Shameful.
5. Stobie the Disco Cuttlefish
Cuttlefish are often overlooked by cephalopod fans, and that’s a damn shame. Their pupils are W-shaped, so they can see in front and behind at the same time. Little dudes are hardcore.
…did I say little? Oh yeah, Australia has the largest cuttlefish in the world. They can grow up to half a metre in length, and weigh up to 10kg. That’s bigger than my cat.
Stobie the Disco Cuttlefish was a featured performer at the Adelaide Fringe a few years ago. He was meant to raise awareness of a catastrophic drop in the local cuttlefish population, only everyone forgot to mention that until dedicated cuttlefish fans went, “Um, guys? Your cephalopod is problematic.” So I guess Stobie is my problematic cuttlefish fave.
3. Ozymandias the Octopus
It’s quite possible that NZ-Australian journalist Elle Hunt loves octopi even more than I do. Not that it’s a competition, but sometimes I suspect that she’s winning. She bought the naming rights to an octopus at a local aquarium, dubbing him Ozymandias, and her account of releasing him into the wild made me tear up:
He sat there. I held one of his many arms. We remained like that for a minute, his little suction cups twisted around my hand. Then he was covered by a wave, and then he was gone.
2. Inky the Octopus
Much like our merchant-raiding octopus at #4, Inky has a knack for getting in and out of places at will. So much so that, one night, he escaped his tank and oozed to freedom — FREEDOM! — in the open sea.
Wherever Inky is, we wish him well.
1. The Striped Pyjama Squid
According to Pottermore, my Patronus is a Small Owl. This is obviously a mistake, because clearly my Patronus is the Striped Pyjama Squid.
(But I can’t be too angry with JKR on this count, because it was the giant squid living in the lake at Hogwarts that made me fall in love with cephalopods in the first place, and if this was a top 10 instead of a top 5, the Hogwarts Giant Squid would be number 6.)
The Striped Pyjama Squid, aka the Striped Dumpling Squid because it just couldn’t get any cuter, is an Australian squid noted for its black and white stripes, which the squid will flash to repel predators.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, whose gifs I have shamelessly stolen, quotes their aquarist, Bret Grasse: “They try to look menacing by making dark stripes on their mantle, but this only makes them look cuter in my opinion.”
HAVE SOME RESPECT, BRET, THESE ARE SERIOUS MOLLUSCS HERE.
…okay, they are adorable.
But my favourite Striped Pyjama Squid trait is: BURROWING.
They burrow into the sea bed and settle down to wait for passing prey, their bulbous yellow eyes protruding from the sand. Not unlike me, burrowing into my nest of blankets until only my eyes and nose are visible.
I IDENTIFY VERY STRONGLY WITH THIS SQUID.