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Swarms of Octopus Are Taking Over the Oceans

Giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama). Image: Wildlife Photographer Scott Portelli

Something strange is happening to the oceans. As coral reefs wither and fisheries collapse, octopuses are multiplying like mad. As soon as they perceive weakness, they will amass an army and invade the land, too.

Okay, that last statement is probably pure paranoia. But it is a bit unsettling that cephalopods—squids, octopuses, cuttlefish—are booming, and scientists don’t know why. An analysis published today in Current Biology indicates that numerous species across the world’s oceans have increased in numbers since the 1950s.

“The consistency was the biggest surprise,” said lead study author Zoë Doubleday of the University of Adelaide. “Cephalopods are notoriously variable, and population abundance can fluctuate wildly, both within and among species.”

 

It was one such wild fluctuation that inspired the new study. A few years back, the giant Australian cuttlefish, pictured above, experienced a sudden and dramatic population crash. “They almost disappeared completely,” Doubleday told Gizmodo, adding that one of her co-authors had the idea to look at boom-bust cycles across other cephalopod populations to see if there were any patterns. “We didn’t know how much data would be out there, but we managed to get quite a bit together,” Doubleday said.

Pulling together fishery data and previous scientific surveys, the team managed to assemble a time series of population information on 35 species or genera of cephalopods, spanning all major ocean regions from 1953 to 2013. While there was substantial year-to-year variability, and a small number of species declined, overall, many cephalopod populations in many parts of the ocean have increased in numbers. (The giant Australian cuttlefish has also begun to recover.)

So, why are cephalopods kicking butt when pretty much everything else in the oceans is dying? Doubleday and her co-authors are still investigating, but they suspect it has to do with rapid population turnover rates. “Cephalopods tend to boom and bust—they’re called the weeds of the sea,” Doubleday said. “If environmental conditions are good, they can rapidly exploit those conditions because they grow so fast.”

One reason environmental conditions might have improved is that humans are picking off cephalopods’ main competitors—predatory fish. Other large-scale changes like global warming could also be playing a role. “I don’t think it’s any one single factor,” Doubleday said. “But something’s changing on quite a large scale that’s giving cephalopods an edge.”

Another strange possibility is that cephalopods will become too weedy and run out of food. If that happens? “They’re highly cannibalistic—they might start eating each other if they overgrow,” Doubleday said.

In short, it’s too early to predict whether octopuses will continue to boom or whether the oceans will devolve into a frenzied cannibalism fest. Still, if an intelligent race of tentacled underwater beings winds up outmaneuvering us and taking over the planet, we can’t say there weren’t warning signs.

 

Source gizmodo.com

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37 Comments on "Swarms of Octopus Are Taking Over the Oceans"

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Guest

Well it looks like it is chilli octupus time

Guest

Their DNA is from out of this world.

Guest

Ocean Resuscitation…

Guest

Somenthing to do with the global warming.

Guest

so eccentially they are alian

Guest

remember people these are the only species on earth that does not share any dna from anything on the planet i mean a banana has 50 percent of our dna

Guest

I think Rick was joking. 😉

Guest

Thanks for Your dose of Common Sense in my defense! Your insights were greatly appreciated!

Guest

gods? you are in the wrong group no such thing

Guest

Figures of Speech!

Guest

Food FOR the Gods!

Guest

Food ro the Gods!

Guest

Cthulu is returning! *g*

Guest
Guest

I used to work at Sunderland fish quay, north east of England. The lads have been telling me they’ve seen a lot more octopuses in the last year or so. They are putting it down to global warming. Spider crabs are getting up through the English channel as well. Anything that can’t handle a touch of cold couldn’t live in the north sea a while back.

Guest

Its pretty crazy apparently theyre multiplying at an enormous rate..last year jelly fish were doing the same thing but theyve not reported on them for ages soo now its the octopuses. .the whole ocean is changing the world with it..i think we can expect even more bizzare occurrences..

Guest

That’s because their main predator is the shark but loads of numbskulls are shark fishing so the octopus numbers are increasing.

eevie
Guest

The octopus is not from earth as it has alien DNA. 🙂 and yes they can leave the water and crawl about. Something evil and freaky about them.

Guest

Say Hell-Oh to re-surfacing of Cthulhu. 😉

Guest

Click to enlarge and feel free to spread.

Guest

Click to enlarge and feel free to spread.

Guest

Cornelia Connell you are correct with the mass extinctions they have a large food supply

Guest

I’d say their main predator’s numbers are down as to why they’re thriving. Sharks dwindling?

Guest

You have to realize that this means that something is wrong with the environment. And, more than likely, it is caused by mankind. Also, sooner or later, it will be affecting us.

Guest

Yeah. These secret oil spills that doesn’t make the news. All over the place.

Guest

Yes, that and the oil.

Guest

I also thought about all the radiation that has leaked into the oceans. That will affect the world for years to come.🐙

Guest

Over fishing would be my guess.

Guest

You are right see below

Guest

Cthulhu awakening.

Guest

THIS IS COOL.

Guest

Maybe is because of the global warming that octopuse take over the oceans.

Guest

Alien UFO Sightings Yes, that’s why they want go to Mars..

Guest

Back to when the world began, I imagine.

Guest

It’s because the sharks are disappearing from over fishing. The Gulf of Mexico is swarming with the red diablo squid already. Those ones take a bite the size of a ping pong ball and are voracious. If all sharks go, the cephalopods will rule the oceans.

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