My wife, who adores arroz de polvo (rice with octopus) and just about any other octopus dish, frequently laughs at my refusals to eat this succulent regional delicacy. When I tell her that I worked with octopuses in a past job, and that they’re outrageously intelligent and it’s a bit like eating a cat, she asks me when I last refused to eat meat from lambs or pigs. This is a good argument for which I never have a decent answer other than the lame, “Yeah, well, that’s different.”
Perhaps the argument I ought to be using is, “I can’t bring myself to eat anything that beautiful.” And if you don’t think soft, squishy undersea creatures with eight arms and suction cups can be beautiful, then you haven’t seen this video. Taken off the coast of Oregon, among the hydrothermal vent fields at the Juan de Fuca Ridge, it shows a rarely-seen white octopus (Grimpoteuthis bathynectes) swimming gracefully through its native habitat. Members of the Grimpoteuthis genus are nicknamed “Dumbo” octopuses due to a pair of thick, strong fins on their mantle, which they use for propulsion and which make them look like a certain Disneyfied flying elephant. But Dumbo could never withstand the environment these creatures thrive in. As a Scientific American article notes, they are “marvels of evolutionary engineering. Living mostly some 3,000 to 4,500 meters (9,800 to 14,800 feet) down, they can stand pressures of more than 5,000 pounds per square inch.”
Check out that linked article for more interesting information on these unusual creatures…or just sit back and be mesmerized by this video, produced by a deep sea research team from the University of Washington.
(And it’s in HD, too! Full screen if you can.)
UPDATE: Upon reading this post, my wife insists that I correct two things. 1) Her favorite octopus dish is actually salada de polvo, and 2) she “would never eat anything that beautiful.” So now I just need to find some gorgeous HD footage of our local Atlantic octopuses swimming…