Pat Cahalan April 7, 2006 5:17 PM

A friend of mine used to have a pet octopus.

They are, indeed, one of the coolest things ever, and if you’re the type who enjoys maintaining contained ecologies at home, you’re going to be highly incented to pick up a cephalopod. However, be warned that an octopus (at least) is an extremely difficult animal for which to provide long term life support.

They have all of the attendant problems of salt water aquariums over fresh water aquariums, and more importantly they are highly intelligent and escape artists.

Despite increasingly complex measures to keep my friend’s octopus enclosed in his life support system, the critter finally committed hari-kari by hacking the tank and getting out (into a decidedly inhospitable non liquid environment). A desiccated octopus is not a pretty sight.

++Don April 7, 2006 5:34 PM

I understand that they also have a tendency to ink the tank when startled, which requires an immediate water change to keep everything in the tank from dying. But yes, their escape antics are quite amusing, so long as they’re not successful. You’d think that something intelligent to figure a way out of even the most creatively secured tank would wise up to the fact that air isn’t a friendly place…

DillWEed April 7, 2006 5:57 PM

In all the seucity minded world we are in today can anyone answer what the MIX MASTER servers are down?? Whay has Anonymizer pulled its email sending page from its member page. IT seems that these services are becoming more the child of the GOV

another_bruce April 7, 2006 11:39 PM

the deadly blue-ringed octopus was mentioned in the link, is this the same octopus featured in the james bond movie “octopussy”?

Saxon April 8, 2006 1:05 AM

@another_bruce: Yes, that is the same octopus, though the one in the movie was a puppet.

Rich April 8, 2006 9:25 AM


Re: Octopuses out of water

I think part of the problem is that they can survive for some time out of water. They have been known to travel from tidal pool to tidal pool, and I once heard about an amazing octupus that would travel accross the floor between tanks in a research setting. Staff couldn’t figure out why the crab count in the feeding tank was going down every night. They thought perhaps staff were stealing crabs. So they set up a camera, and it turned out the octopus was leaving its tank, crawling accross the floor into the crab tank, having a midnight snack- and returning to its own tank again.

David Donahue April 9, 2006 5:12 PM

Hmm its gets me thinking, can a pair of identical twin the blue-ringed octopi be used as tokens for key exchange of a symmetric key or a one time pad?

1 bit of data could be derived from the various sucker placements on each arm, (deriving a full byte of Key data) which is determined by matching mechanisms at the sender and receiver (who are also trained at safe blue-ringed octopus handling techniques).

Cryptanalysis would be hampered by the fatal toxic bite which the octopi would be trained to inflict on non-authorized cryptographers and other personnel. Few academic cryptographers would dare attempt to break this system for the minimal credit of a good research paper.

Keys expire automatically after 6 months when their maximum lifespan is reached.

If properly trained, these tokens can deliver themselves.

These tokens meet and exceed the same mil-spec water resistance standards as SecurID Tokens in fact they may actually seek out and demonstrate this property if left out near a water source.

The unlikeliness of using dangerously toxic octopi as a key transfer token and the lack of any markings or other external modifications makes this an effective steganography technique as well.

If this goes into deployment, intelligence organisations across the world will soon be faced with unbreakable encrypted data streams and be hearing from their suspects, “What me a spy?, no I’m just coral reef aquarium hobbyist”

Taneli Huuskonen April 10, 2006 1:52 AM

The word “octopus” comes directly from the Greek “oktopous”, whose plural is “oktopodes”. In English, the plural “octopuses” is normally used.

David Donahue April 11, 2006 7:41 PM

I actually researched proper plural forms and detemined your answer before I posted, however I thought that would lead to confusion, so I used the more commonly used Octopui instead.

I understand that common English usage “octopuses” and “Octopi” are both equally misused.

I just thought it a funny vision that there could be a cryptographic token that could defend itself against cryptanalysis

cynic1 April 16, 2006 4:59 PM

Desiccated octapus is a site for sore eyes. Put in the pot with wine and strong herbs.Delicious

Cassie Thompson April 22, 2006 7:12 AM

To: ruidh at April 7, 2006 10:30 PM
RE: Fresh calamari!

Calamari is made from squid, not octopuses.

seventhside May 9, 2006 10:45 PM

“I just thought it a funny vision that there could be a cryptographic token that could defend itself against cryptanalysis”

Funny? I thought the whole thing was sorta hot, in a technogeek-nitrogen-saturation-international-intrigue-Italian-gourmand kinda way.

Captain June 10, 2006 2:12 AM

where did your friend get their octopus from? i’m trying to find one. (in florida, but willing to travel!!)

humboldt squid May 8, 2007 8:12 AM

what about squid, can they travel off land for a period of time?

Pete March 21, 2010 7:14 PM

Plural of octopus is octopuses.

If it was a latin word it would be octopi. But its greek in origin… (same with prospectus and prospectuses). I tried to be clever when I was 18 and asked someone from Cambridge university if they had any prospecti left, they told me off. lol

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