I want to play with your octopus (literally)
May 7, 2009 1:25 PM   Subscribe

I am a biology student at the University of Utah specializing in animal behavior, and I have a particular interest in cephalopods (squid, octopi, cuttlefish.) Everything I know about them is from reading, and I would love to have the opportunity to observe one in real life, and perhaps even interact with it if that would be possible. Does anyone in the Salt Lake area have a pet octopus or know of one that I might be able to meet?
posted by Cambrian_Sea to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There is an aquarium relatively nearby. Do they have my fave cephalopods there?

Many octopus tales and links here, from The Blue. May be worth a trip one way or another to view our wonderful boneless brethren.
posted by elendil71 at 1:32 PM on May 7, 2009

So, this is totally tangential to your question, but I am sure you will find it interesting.

When I was visiting Hawaii I was walking along the beach one evening when what looked like a clump of see weed washed ashore.

I went over to look at it when the "see weed" suddenly changed colors and the central mass of it rose up on some tendrils and it started ambling (surprisingly quickly) back towards the water. I was shocked! I quickly realized it was an octopus and having made that connection I could clearly make out some of its more delicate features in the fading light as it rushed back to the water.

The whole episode lasted maybe 40 seconds, but it left quite an impression.

So, not to be sarcastic but... perhaps visit a beach and get lucky?
posted by DetonatedManiac at 3:40 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

A little googling shows that there is an aquarium with an Octopus. Seems like you should be able to convince someone there to let you have some quiet time with it since you are a student.
posted by Good Brain at 3:55 PM on May 7, 2009

Also not quite answering the question: have you looked into a semester or summer at a marine biological lab? Here on the East coast there's the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab; Duke also has a marine lab in Beaufort, NC, and I'm sure there are others. Closer to you, there's the venerable Scripps Institute. As a former scientist who spent time in Woods Hole and Beaufort, I am positive there would be nothing like seeing and working with these amazing animals, in their natural habitat, alongside other scientists who study them too.
posted by underthehat at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I will definitely visit the aquarium. It wouldn't have occurred to me to ask for some "quiet time" with the octopus there, so thanks to Good Brain for the suggestion. I am still on the lookout for someone with their own pet octopus. I want to try to train one to do something, and present it with puzzles to see how it reacts.
posted by Cambrian_Sea at 7:21 PM on May 7, 2009

Talk to your professors; they may have contacts here. Next time you're discussing a paper on cephalopods or whatever, say: "hey I know this sounds a little silly, but all this reading has made me really want to do a bit of work first-hand. Happen to know an octopus I could hang out with for a bit?" Obviously, you can make it sound less dorkish.
posted by zachlipton at 1:10 AM on May 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I visited the aquarium, and was delighted with the octopus there, although I didn't get to interact with it. I'm told they're getting cuttlefish.

It seems like I stand a much better chance of getting close-and-rubbery with an octopus someplace more coastal. I"m visiting San Francisco soon--I'll see what I can manage!
posted by Cambrian_Sea at 2:22 AM on April 29, 2010

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