Octopuses – the Boffins of the Depths?
Weymouth’s Sea Life aquarium recently launched an appeal to its visitors asking them not to eat octopuses because of the fact that they are “as intelligent as the average pet dog”.
Studies have shown that octopuses are among the cleverest animals in the sea, capable of complex thought processes. They also have short- and long-term memories as well as distinct personalities and can use tools. They’ve been known to cause havoc in aquariums by escaping from their tanks, short-circuiting the lights, unscrewing water pipes and even pilfering fish from adjacent tanks on the sly!
We wholeheartedly agree with Sea Life’s appeal to keep these intelligent and fascinating animals off the dinner table, but as with all living beings, it’s their capacity to feel pain that should be our primary consideration. After all, when it comes to pain and suffering, all animals feel it in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They experience pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness and motherly love.
Knowing, as we do, that octopuses are sensitive to pain, just as fish, chickens, pigs and other animals used for food are, the only rational, humane thing to do is not to kill and eat them but instead to take a step back, admire their remarkable qualities and acknowledge that they have just as much of a right to live their lives without persecution as we do to live ours.
On that note, check out this fascinating TED talk from ocean explorer David Gallo, which gives you a glimpse of the extraordinary underwater world of octopuses, squids and other cephalopods, and let it inspire you to leave octopuses – and all other sensitive animals – off your plate for good!