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Nature Life: Octopus and Nature

By Obiabin Onukwugha

An octopus is a soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusc of the order Octopoda. There about 300 known species of octopuses.

They inhabit various regions of the ocean, including coral reefs, pelagic waters, and the seabed; some live in the intertidal zone and others at abyssal depths.

The octopus is bilaterally symmetric with two eyes and a beaked mouth at the center point of the eight limbs.The soft body of octopus can radically alter its shape, enabling it to squeeze through small gaps.

They trail their eight appendages behind them as they swim. The siphon in octopus is used both for respiration and locomotion, by expelling a jet of water.

The Yorubas call it “ẹja ẹlẹsẹ mẹjọ”, Hausas call it “Kifin teku mai kafa takwas.”

Octopuses have a complex nervous system and excellent sight, and are among the most intelligent and behaviourally diverse of all invertebrates.

Most species grow quickly, mature early, and are short-lived. In most species, the male uses a specially adapted arm to deliver a bundle of sperm directly into the female’s mantle cavity, after which he becomes senescent and dies, while the female deposits fertilised eggs in a den and cares for them until they hatch, after which she also dies.

Octopuses defend themselves against predators through expulsion of ink, the use of camouflage and threat displays. They also has the ability to jet quickly through the water and hide, and even deceit.

All octopuses are venomous, but only the blue-ringed octopuses are known to be deadly to humans. However, they are eaten and considered a delicacy by humans in many parts of the world, especially the Mediterranean, the Asian seas and some parts of Africa.

Octopuses play significant role to te ecosystem. They are a food source for fish, seabirds and cetaceans, while feeding mainly on crustaceans, molluscs and fish, though they also consume such organisms as annelids and echinoderms.

There are some traditional beliefs that the octopuses control the weather and have the power to heal the sick.

Na Kika is the ancient octopus god of the Gilbert Islands and is said to have helped built the Pacific islands. In Hawaiian culture, the god Kanaloa would most commonly take the form of an octopus.

In the Hawaiian creation story, the octopus is an alien that survived from a previous universe.

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