“The EU directive on “the protection of animals used for scientific purposes“, which member states must incorporate into their national laws by January 2013, for the first time extends protections to cephalopods as well as vertebrate lab animals.
“[…] Participants at the Naples meeting criticized the ‘mammal-centric language’ of the directive. For example, the text of the regulation recommends that analgesics and local or total anaesthesia be used to reduce animals’ pain, when necessary. But researchers do not know much about how pain signals are transmitted in the nervous systems of cephalopods, and what effects anaesthetics would have on them. It is possible that such measures could actually cause more harm to the animal, or seriously interfere with the biological mechanisms being investigated.”
A 19-year old diver posted photos of himself holding the giant pacific octopus he legally caught–and they went viral. From what I’ve read, it seems like he was within his rights, but on the way out of the water, he ran into two other divers who were going to the area specifically to see giant pacific octopus. The wildfire of commentary also seems to be from people who enjoy visiting giant pacific octopi, and don’t want to see their tourism-objects killed, or dumped unrespectfully into the back of a pickup truck. This marks a fascinating instance where, as with dolphins but not pigs, intelligence in animals has been a primary motivator for bans against hunting. Once we mark certain animals as kin, even evolutionally convergent kin, it becomes taboo bordering on cannibalism to eat or mistreat them.
Hsuan Hsu writes a beautifully clear analysis of octopi in youth culture today. Couldn’t do better myself.
There’s a whole theme of mimicry in cephalopods that seems pretty interesting–and in a recent article from Science, there’s an instance where if you have one female and two male cuttlefish together, sometimes the courting middle male will shift his coloration to look male on one side (to the female) and female on the other (to the male). Apparently it’s only been observed when such a trio is present, but not if it’s a single female in a larger group of males, or the opposite. Maybe “deceiving the other male” is a good explanation, but there could be others.
Reminds me of the Mimic Octopus, who is very interesting to watch in a documentary because the scientists are never sure when he’s “not” mimicking another creature’s form. Is the mimic octopus ever just himself?