There are over 300 different species of these wondrous creatures, octopuses and with a range of interesting names: from the Carribean Reef octopus, Mimic octopus to the Common octopus, these great creatures continue to fascinate whoever chances to meet them! Some are friendly like the California Two Spot Octopus while others are lethal like the Blue ringed Octopus which is said to contain enough poison to kill a human being! Clearly, this is not the one you want to meet in the cold dark waters!
Octopuses are amazing for various reasons some of which are :
1. They are known to be some of the most intelligent creatures living in water. Together with their long memory, they use the suctions found on each arm to feel and smell the food. If they remember it as not tasty, they let it go. With their ability to solve problems, octopuses are truly phenomenal.
2. Because they are boneless, they can squeeze through the smallest opening as they escape from their enemies or as they follow their (prey) lunch right into its home.
3. Octopuses are able to blend perfectly in their environment. Using their senses, they can detect an enemy using the sense of sight and smell which are strongly developed as they are deaf.
4. Their eight arms (not tentacles) can operate independently. Meaning if a predator grabs one, instead of fighting for its leg, the clever octopus just sheds it off and grows a new one. How cool is that? This fact leads us to explore the intriguing ways in which octopuses are helping humans to discover ways of solving various problems.
Octopuses help human beings
Scientist are studying the way an octopus can lose one of its arms and then regrow it. Findings are being used in the creation of bionics which are artificial limbs that actually respond to the brain’s instructions making the artificial limbs actually move just like a human limb would! As a result of this study, people who have lost their limbs now have more freedom to move about and lead a freer life.
Based on observing the movement of octopuses, researchers have modified the movement of their robots to have them swim faster and hold on to things yet use lesser brain power. Plans to employ the same information while creating under water drone are underway.
Octopuses are guiding the creation of various projects that involve robots such as using an octopus - like arm to support elderly people in the shower. Octopuses have inspired medical research too. Also industries and factories continue to innovate many things courtesy of that amazing eight handed creature – the octopus!
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor