World Octopus Day

October 8 is a day to celebrate these distinctive cephalopods. Of course, one of the great questions about these creatures, is what is the correct plural? According to Merriam Webster, the actually correct plural is octopuses. Octopi came into being when some folks decided to take English words that end in –us and treat them as if they were Latin words. The problem is, octopus actually comes from the Greek, which means if you were going to treat it as a foreign word, the plural would be octopodes, a word seldom heard (a good thing!) So feel free to use whichever suits your fancy.

The largest octopus species is the North Pacific Giant Octopus, which can weigh over thirty pounds and grow over 14 feet long. Octopuses have a beak and two eyes. The eight arms are four pairs. It has no internal or external skeleton. There are over 300 species in various colors and shapes. And of course, they have the cool ability to shoot ink when threatened.

Katherine Harmon Courage has this to say in the Scientific American blog: “I think these animals deserve at least one day of celebration. Octopuses have some remarkable assets, including eight semi-autonomous arms, thousands of smart suckers, cold-adapted blue blood, three beating hearts and eerily advanced intelligence. And they have been around for 300 million years—long before even the ancient T. rex emerged.” The sad thing is, they are now in danger because of overfishing and the fact that they are considered a delicacy in many places. Statistics say that over 50,000 tons are caught for food each year. As someone who has eaten octopus once, may I say they are in no danger from me!


Quotes about Octopuses

Octopuses are tough–and not just in the sense that they can take out sharks… They’re almost pure muscle.– Katherine Harmon Courage (Octopus!: The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea)

Exaggeration is the octopus of the English language.–Matthew Pearl,

The Hawaiian creation myth relates that the present cosmos is only the last of a series, having arisen in stages from the wreck of the previous universe. In this account, the octopus is the lone survivor of the previous, alien universe.–Roland Burrage Dixon

Oh, I love hugging. I wish I was an octopus, so I could hug 10 people at a time!–Drew Barrymore

Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.–H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Whenever you are threatened by a hostile presence, you emit a thick cloud of love like an octopus squirts out ink…–William S. Burroughs

No one ever explained the octopuses.–Gail Carriger

Tell me, O Octopus, I begs,
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus;
If I were thou, I’d call me Us.
–Ogden Nash

I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden in the shade
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been
In his octopus’s garden in the shade.

I’d ask my friends to come and see
An octopus’ garden with me
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade.

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden with you.
–Richard Starkey

Octopus floating
in earth’s ink-ore core
whose arms extend
up here as trees
may your branches squirt
their black across
my pages please.
–Bill Knott (“Octopus Floating”)

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