A 70-pound octopus named Fred not only has eight arms, but possibly nine lives.
Last week, a fish market in Morro Bay, California saved Fred from being served up for someone’s supper,
Giovanni DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni’s Fish Market, makes his living selling fish and other forms of seafood. But he recently decided against selling octopus products after learning about how intelligent the animals are.
DeGarimore told the San Luis Obispo Tribune he met a friendly octopus while diving in Fiji.
“Essentially, we played a game of hide-and-seek for 15 minutes under the ocean,” he said.
On May 14, DeGarimore’s dock manager told him a local crab fisherman was selling a 70-pound octopus, putting DeGarimore in an awkward position. He said he no longer wanted to financially reward those who capture octopuses, but also didn’t want to cut up such “a beautiful animal.”
So DeGarimore bit the bullet and purchased the octopus for what he says was a couple of hundred dollars.
The octopus was named Fred and spent a few days at the fish market before being released in a safe place.
A spokesperson for the fish market told local news station KSBW TV that the decision to spare the Fred’s life was personal for DeGarimore.
“He’s an avid diver and lover of the ocean, and though Gio makes his livelihood on selling seafood, he felt conflicted when it came to these magnificent and arguably sentient beings,” the spokesperson said.
Comparative psychologist and octopus expert Jennifer Mather spoke to Scientific American at length about octopus intelligence in 2009.
“I would say intelligence means learning information and using the information that you’ve learned,” she said, explaining that this is an ability researchers have observed in octopuses.
She added that octopuses engage in play and have distinct personalities. The complex environment of tropical reefs likely helped spur their intelligence, according to Mather.
“There’s such a huge variety of situations, lots of kinds of prey, lots of predators, and if you are not armored, you’d better be smart,” she said. “The octopus has gone the smart route.”