ZPi | Tree Octopus Caught On Tape! (And A Poem)
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Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Caught On Tape! (And A Poem)

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-26.6760 LMT | Cephalopods

The person behind the Save the Tree Octopus! YouTube channel has made an exciting find -- actual video of Octopus paxarbolis in the wild:

Note how it rhythmically moves its arms as a warning to the intrusive videographer to keep away. This uncharacteristically aggressive behavior was undoubtedly learned from decades of human poaching. Ever since a nonarboreal octopus was put on display at the Crystal Palace Aquarium -- causing a sensation with the public and starting the trend of all respectable aquariums needing an octopus in their collection -- cephalopods have come to know fear of human capture (and given that they're now being pitted against other animals in blood sports, can you blame them?)

This scared Tree Octopus doesn't want to be the first of its kind to end up an attraction in some terrarium. Why would it want to spend its tragically short life in captivity, forced to mate under the perverse gaze of humans or fight squirrels to the death? Remember, if you encounter a Tree Octopus: take only pictures, leave only dollar bills.

Speaking of the Crystal Palace's octopus, here's an 1872 ode to it written by Arthur Clement Hilton (under the pen-name "Algernon Charles Sin-burn") in parody of Swinburne's "Dolores":

Octopus.

Strange beauty, eight-limbed and eight-handed,
    Whence camest to dazzle our eyes?
With thy bosom bespangled and banded
    With the hues of the seas and the skies;
Is thy home European or Asian,
    O mystical monster marine?
Part molluscous and partly crustacean,
    Betwixt and between.

Wast thou born to the sound of sea trumpets?
    Hast thou eaten and drunk to excess
Of the sponges—thy muffins and crumpets,
    Of the seaweed—thy mustard and cress?
Wast thou nurtured in caverns of coral,
    Remote from reproof or restraint?
Art thou innocent, art thou immoral,
    Sinburnian or Saint?

Lithe limbs, curling free, as a creeper
    That creeps in a desolate place,
To enroll and envelop the sleeper
    In a silent and stealthy embrace,
Cruel beak craning forward to bite us,
    Our juices to drain and to drink,
Or to whelm us in waves of Cocytus,
    Indelible ink!

O breast, that 'twere rapture to writhe on!
    O arms 'twere delicious to feel
Clinging close with the crush of the Python,
    When she maketh her murderous meal!
In thy eight-fold embraces enfolden,
    Let our empty existence escape;
Give us death that is glorious and golden,
    Crushed all out of shape!

Ah! thy red lips, lascivious and luscious,
    With death in their amorous kiss,
Cling round us, and clasp us, and crush us,
    With bitings of agonised bliss;
We are sick with the poison of pleasure,
    Dispense us the potion of pain;
Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure
    And bite us again!

End of post.