October 8th is World Octopus Day! It may not be the smallest animal in the ocean but the octopus does not get the attention that it deserves.
Learning more about this eight-legged sea creature is one of the things you can do to help our oceans. Look for NGO’s and other organizations selling octopus gifts to celebrate this day and raise money for marine life preservation.
Octopi are one of the oldest living creatures (the oldest octopus fossils are 300 million years old) and there are many types of octopus still floating through our oceans, today. Read on to learn more about these cephalopods and why they deserve more appreciation.
When is World Octopus Day?
World octopus day is on October 8th each year, the kick-off for World Cephalopod Awareness Days from 8 – 12 October. It is a day of appreciation for this unique color-changing cephalopod with 8 arms, 3 hearts, and a body that consists of 90% muscle.
How Many Octopuses Are There?
One of the reasons why there is a national octopus day is to gain awareness about their population. Although there are no exact figures on how many there are left, there are concerns about the effects of fishing and pollution.
It is difficult to make an estimate of how many octopuses are swimming in the waters because they are solitary creatures. This species does not move around in groups like many other animals do, which makes recording their numbers more difficult.
Also, many octopus species live in the depths of the oceans with some going as deep as 5000 feet. The giant pacific octopus, for example, happily roams at both shallow depths of less than 20 feet and the ocean floor at over 4900 feet below.
What Their Population Says About the State of the Ocean
World Octopus Day is a good reminder of how vast the oceans are and how ocean health is indicative of the state of climate change. These eight-legged suckers are highly adaptive creatures but they are also sensitive to pollution.
Data indicates that there has been a population growth since the 1990s. However, these figures are not completely reliable.
The population estimates are based on how many octopus are caught by fishermen. Higher catch numbers are more an indicator of how intensive fishing is rather than the actual population numbers.
The growing population is also an indication that their predators are decreasing in population. Their main predators are sharks, seals, whales, and some larger fish and turtles. Climate change is another reason why their numbers are growing. Rising sea temperatures are causing octopuses to grow and mature faster and also lay eggs more frequently.
Female octopuses can lay up to 100,000 eggs but only about 80 survive. Still, with more litters, the population quickly increases. For more fun facts about Octopus check out our very own octopus infographic;
This can put greater pressure on the fishing industry as many of their prey, like shrimp, clams and other crustaceans, are wanted for human consumption, too. Some of these creatures with tentacles eat up to 30% of their body weight every day so this can have a significant impact.
There is still much to learn about the ocean’s biodiversity and since collecting facts on octopuses is so difficult, we should pay attention to their populations and what effect this has on other marine life.
World Cephalopod Awareness Days
World Octopus Day is the start of the World Cephalopod Awareness Days. 8 – 12 October are dedicated to raising awareness about all the tentacled marine invertebrates.
The events kick off on October 8 with World Octopus Day. These animals are known for their sharp brains and strong instincts which makes them highly adaptable to their environment.
October 9 celebrates the nautilus, a mysterious cephalopod that only rises to shallower depths to feed at night. This is also the only cephalopod on the list with a shell.
October 10 is also known as Squittle Day which is a combination of the words squids and cuttlefish. These marine animals are quite similar in shape with a more elongated design.
October 11 is slightly different as it celebrates mythical cephalopods instead of the ones actually still swimming in the seas. Perhaps one of the best known mythical cephalopods is the Kraken, a giant octopus-like creature that is the nightmare of pirates and seafarers.
The special days end on October 12th with an ode to fossils as it is also National Fossil Day. These unique ocean dwellers have been around for millions of years as their beautiful fossilized bodies show.
Although these 4 days in October are not elaborately celebrated, they are a good reminder of the value of our oceans. Many of us can only admire its abundance and value from pictures and even those pictures only offer a sliver of its true irreplaceable beauty.