Skip to main content

Image Hosted by

For those of you who have been following the now 56-part Marine Life Series I’ve been posting on Fridays for the past fifteen months, you are probably aware of the incredible octopus I have named "Violet". (Links below.) Violet is a common Atlantic octopus (Octopus vulgaris). We caught her in January and she has been spending the past six-plus months educating children at my marine biology center. Sadly, Violet is now dying.

Image Hosted by
Violet in her favorite glass bowl.

Unlike the giant Pacific octopus, which may live for more than thirty years, my East Coast species has a mere two-year life span. This is heartbreaking when dealing with such an intelligent form of invertebrate life. I know that Violet is a female because she lacks a hectocotylus, a spoon-shaped organ at the tip of the third right arm of males used to transfer sperm into the body cavity of the female.

An octopus is a solitary creature and will not tolerate another member of its species near it except for a brief mating period near the end of their lives. They do, however, bond with their caretaker when kept in captivity. Violet was able to pick me out of a crowd and would extend an arm or two to touch hands. They are very tactile creatures. To keep her entertained I keep a variety of plastic cat toys in her tank for her to play with. One of her favorite games was to play catch with her favorite ball. By squeezing the floating ball between my fingers I could shoot the object down into the water, where she would grab it with her suction cups, play with it a bit, and release it back to the surface right where my hand was waiting.

Those games have stopped. When they reach the end of their lives they turn a pale ash-gray color and stop interacting with their surroundings except to eat. In the wild I imagine this sluggish behavior results in them being easy prey for fish or lobsters. Soon she will start chewing her arms off (one is already gone), a nervous behavior typical of the death process.

Violet was the model for my diary on octopus eyes.

I also made a couple of YouTube videos, one of her catching and killing a crab, and the other showing how she learned to unscrew a glass jar to get at the food inside. She’ll be missed.

Regular MLS diary will be posted Friday night. No entry will be posted the following week as I will be in Chicago for YearlyKos. See you there.

Other diaries in this series can be found here.

Originally posted to Mark H on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 03:25 PM PDT.



92%126 votes
4%6 votes
2%4 votes

| 136 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site