Today is World Environment Day and amidst the news of the day are reports of both the proliferation of octopus, their alien genome, and tragically how one man’s octopus could save the ocean world but instead only parties upon it.
The largest and most expensive mega-yacht in the world, the Octopus, is seen above. The money invested in that one single plaything might instead restore and sustain the ocean pastures of the Seven Seas of this blue planet!
Sign the petition, make it happen!
This is the world’s day to celebrate and take notice of the environment on this blue planet. How and what we do as a participating species within our common home is a pressing and persistent puzzle. For so many humans they choose to see ourselves as apart from this world not just one of the billions of commoners whose families have evolved here in timeless harmony. We might take a lesson from the Octopus.
Many of us seem to think for some incredibly inexplicable reason that we were created and placed here to be the overlords of all of nature as opposed to be contributing participants as simply part of nature.
This quirk of our is more than any other aspect of our nature the cause of the great harm we do to our home through neglect and intent.
Lessons from the seas
One odd looking ‘fellow earthling’ the Octopus offers some metaphorical lessons about the nature of life on the blue planet. They are present in the fossil record going back at least 500 million years in a form very similar to what we see today. Of the ‘higher life’ on this blue planet nothing holds a candle to the longevity and survival of the incredibly intelligent octopus.
Man’s relationship with the octopus as part of the ocean mystery is second perhaps only to the great whales. Throughout the ages man has created myths and parables about the strangely intelligent octopus. These ‘myths’ were seen to have some basis during a recent World Soccer Cup series when a German octopus by the name of Paul picked in advance five out of five wins in the soccer match!
Here in the North Pacific the native parable of the Octopus Daughter is one such tale that has been taught throughout generations of coastal dwelling humans. It tells about how a man was swept out of his canoe by ‘the devil fish daughter’ who took him into the depths not to devour him but rather to marry him. Years later the man returned to the land and became a shaman who taught some of the wisdom found in the sea to those living on the land.
A century ago one of our human Sci-Fi writers, HP Lovecraft, spun tales of a wise and malevolent Octopus human hybrid hibernating within an underwater city in the South Pacific called R’lyeh. The imprisoned Cthulhu remains a persistant source of knowlwege for mankind via some telepathic subconscious connection and as a result the myth of Chuthulu has been transformed into a living ‘god’ by people around the world. His worshippers chant “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (“In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”)
Octopus today are reported to be on the rise in the world’s oceans.
Squid, octopus and cuttlefish populations are booming across the world, at least according to 60 years of catch reports. These fast-growing, adaptable creatures are perfectly equipped to exploit the dramatic changes in ocean ecology wrought by high and rising CO2, climate change, and overfishing, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology.
As go find a curious missing element in the study that seems to focus on data that is primarily coastal in nature yet the paper speaks in a far broader oceanic context as if the coastal zones and distant pelagic ocean are one and the same ecology. The plight of the distant pelagic ocean is certainly clear as collapse of oceanic primary productivity is well documented at the conservatively reported yet devastating rate of 1% per year. If such a collapse of terrestrial grasslands, aka pasture ecosystems, were similarly seen that news would be of global pasture collapse. We all know what Walt Whitman once penned is true, “all beef is grass” indeed those of us who are ocean scientists know that “all fish are plankton” the grass of ocean pastures.
I would propose that the great work in this paper more clearly describes the divergence in the health of coastal vs. distant ocean pasture ecosystems. Surely the collapse of grazing pasture life, aka fish, is a most vital part of the equation. That the cephalopods are thriving, at least in catch reports from coastal fisheries, suggests to me that this shows that the coastal ecosystem is in better shape than offshore ocean pasture ecosystems. The squid are simply staying ashore, where they breed and brood, as life becomes less and less possible in once thriving distant ocean pastures that are becoming ever bluer “blue deserts.”
Squid, octopus and cuttlefish live in the “fast lane”, growing quickly and typically living for only one or two years. They produce lots of eggs, and their eggs have relatively low mortality rates, whether thanks to patient brooding by an octopus mother or the protective mucous that covers embryonic squid. These traits enable cephalopods to adapt rapidly to changes in the environment.
Here’s One Thing We Can Do On Behalf of Octopus
Paul Allen who owns the megayacht Octopus, has spent a quarter of a billion dollars building the ship. It reportedly has a crew of 60 two helicopters and numerous support vessels. I propose that we collectively beg of Mr. Allen to do as much for the ocean he clearly loves as he does to enjoy the megayacht Octopus.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mr. Allen set up an ocean saving fund with an investment principal of a similar $250 million dollars and dedicates the interest on that principal amount (under his financial management skills that will be a terrific annual income) along with the equivalent that he spends each year to keep and crew the Octopus. The millions of dollars each year made available by this party for the ocean instead of on the ocean will be more than enough to restore and sustain ocean pastures around the world, forever, to their historic condition of health and abundance.
I will happily lend a hand and show Mr. Allen how to carry out this and I will ask not one single penny for myself.
How about it Mr. Allen? Will you join me to restore the world’s ocean pastures?