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13 April 2010, 10:30
An octopus which was discovered in the nets of a fisherman off Selsey Bill has gone on display at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The curled octopus was accidentally caught by fishermen who kept it alive in a bucket and contacted the zoological team at the Southsea aquarium.
Aquarist Chelsea Gibbs said, “Octopus are truly incredible creatures and can squeeze through the tiniest of gaps. It’s probable that this particular individual was in search of food and was accidentally hauled up by the fishermen. She’s a fine specimen and is already proving popular with visitors who often find it difficult to believe that such an exotic-looking creature could be living around our coastline."
Curled octopus get their name from their slender, tapering arms which curl at the end.
Although they are usually reddish brown in colour they can change shades quickly and discharge ‘ink’ when threatened. They spend much of their time lying low in holes and crevices or among rocks. Octopus have no bones or skeleton and can squeeze through any gap that their beak can fit through. This could be a small as a ‘Smarties tube’.
The octopus has a highly developed nervous system. Its eyes are like humans and it has the largest and most advanced brain of any invertebrate. Despite the fact that they belong to the same family as slugs and snails, octopus can perform highly complex tasks. As well as unscrewing jars, they can open boxes, distinguish between different shapes and colours and complete mazes.
According to Israeli scientists some of the octopus’s intelligence is actually contained within each of its arms. Each of the octopus’ eight arms can have up to 1,000 suckers and is controlled by an elaborate nervous system consisting of 50 million neurons.