Letters to the Editor (Year 2001)





10/14/01
Hi, Tony. I went to see some lefty street theater down at Wagner Park today, from Bread and Puppet Theater. The animal costumes included a squid:

Squid Costume #1 (link now invalid)

Squid Costume #2 (link now invalid)

Thanks Barry! This is a good opportunity for me to repost a picture from the Letters to the Editor archive -- it's a picture of TONMO community member Steve wearing his octopus costume at a Halloween party in 1999.

SP on Halloween, 1999

Happy Halloween!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
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[email protected]
10/15/01 and 10/16/01
This week's letters to the editor are with regard to last week's message from Nancy re: the name of Jacques Cousteau's video based on his book Octopus and Squid: The Soft Intelligence.
10/15/01

Hey Tonmo,

Regarding Nancy's e-mail about the octopus film from the Cousteau Society...I believe the title of the film she is asking about is Octopus Octopus. I have it and its a bit dated, but still a very good hour long video. Hope this answer's her question!

-Bennett
10/16/01

Hi Tony,

The name of Cousteau's TV show on octopuses was "Octopus-Octopus." I think it was produced back in the 70s. It was available on video up until recently (I have a copy). You can try to order one from Amazon's "out-of-print videos" at Amazon.com.video and search under "octopus."

By the way, avoid the movie "Octopus" made in 2000. It's a real dog!

Best regards,

Roland
Cool, thanks guys!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
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[email protected]
10/07/01
Hello Tony,

I came across a reference to a video (Octopus: the Soft Intelligence) that was supposedly available through the Cousteau society. After finding the phone number of the American branch of the Cousteau society on the web, I phoned. I was told that Cousteau's films were made a long time ago, and were no longer available anywhere, either as film or videos. I think this Octopus title was probably once shown on TV.

Does anyone else have any information about the availability of this particular Cousteau video?

Nancy
Hi Nancy!

I do know that Jacques Cousteau wrote a
book titled Octopus: The Soft Intelligence, but I don't know of any such video, and wasn't able to come up with anything in my search. But that doesn't mean it never existed! If anyone knows anything about this, please do let us know by posting a note on the Message Board.

Unfortunately, the book itself is out-of-print. But you can find a copy in Amazon's New & Used Books section. Here's the link to the book, if you'd like to buy it.

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
9/30/01
hi my son just turned four 4 years old and LOVES octopuses! he thinks of NOTHING else all day, day in, day out. it is scary how obsessed he is at such a young age! I can not tell you how many stuffed animals, rubber toys, and books he has. He LOVES your site. do you know were he can purchase some videos about octopuses. he has animated ones but he loves the real thing. Is there a link from your site. can you help? thanks!
Hi! I'm real glad you and your son enjoy TONMO.com.

Videos. Hmm. Well, there are some sites out there that offer stock video of ocean life (such as this site, with a preview of the octopus clip at the very bottom), but you're not likely to get anything with a high production value.

The Discovery Channel, on the other hand, offers a pretty entertaining video called
The Ultimate Guide: Octopus. I should let you know that it's only 26 minutes long and costs $39.95. You can purchase a copy online at The Discovery Teacher's Store. You can watch a preview of the video at the site as well.

Note that I have no affliation with these sites, and therefore can't vouch for the authenticity or quality or anything like that. You know,
CAVEAT EMPTOR. Good luck, thanks for writing, and enjoy!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
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[email protected]
9/12/01
Subject: The Octopus

Hello! I have one interesting question about this eight-armed cephalopod. My question is: Do you know how to tell the difference between a male and female octopus? I'd appreciate a reply and thank you!

Sincerely, Chase
Hello Chase,

The major visible difference between male and female octopuses is the modified tentacle possessed by the male, for the purpose of transporting sperm to the female. I've also read that male octopuses have fewer suckers on its tentacles than females, and that females in general tend to be slightly larger.

Hope this helps a bit -- thanks for writing,

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
9/3/01
Hello Tonmo, here is a painting I did several years ago of a blue ring Occy.. have for years held a fascination for the little critters, one day I am planning to get one as a pet.. Enjoy your site, just recently subscribed.. Tony (the goldman)..

[CLICK HERE TO SEE IMAGE]
Hi,

Excellent! Thanks a lot for the great image. It's fantastic, and it's going up in the image archive.

You know, *I'd* like to get myself a pet octopus too, one day. I'm taking my time with that dream, because I know they're high maintenance. It's a labor of love, not unlike your artwork, I'm sure! However, I would definitely *not* get a blue-ringed octopus, for fear of death! (Readers, blue-ringed octopuses are venomous and lethal to humans.)

Thanks again (and thanks for subscribing to the newsletter),

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
8/20/01
Hey Tony,

...attached is a nice, clean graphic [from a “critters” font] I thought you might be able to make use of.



Also, thought you might be intrigued by a restaurant I heard about in the East Village called Otafuku. The two items on the menu are made from octopus:

[Time Out New York article]

Talk soon, amanda
Hi Amanda,

Thanks! I'm putting the octopus font image up in the image gallery.

As for the takoyaki and okonomiyaki at Otafuku, I'm afraid I don't think I could do it.

Thanks again for the note.

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
8/10/01
i have to say as a devout 'cephalopodaphile' (as you know, nothing dirty) i was thrilled to stumble across your site... however i happen to like the word octopi and believe more than just words ending in -us should be pluralized with an -i.... anyway heres a multi-limbed haiku for you...

Skulking through the sand An underwater Shiva Stronger than a tongue

Hope you enjoy it....if anyone would appreciate it, it'd be you and your readers...Keep up the good work

Brian W.
Hi Brian,

Excellent haiku! Thanks for sharing.

Regarding the plural of octopus -- from what I've read, since octopus is an English word, the proper plural is indeed octopuses. Kinda like “bonus” -- it's “bonuses”, not “boni”. But really, it's not like no one will know what you're talking about if you say “octopi”, so I say, say it whichever way you please.

Thanks again for the note and kind words.

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
8/2/01
To whom this may concern:

My name is Ashley K.; and I was just wondering if it is unusual for octopus to be incredibly near the shore in Florida. My family and I were vacationing on Sanibel (on the Gulf of Mexico/ Fort Myers); and my father scooped up two baby ones while searching for shells at the water's edge. We've been to the Fort Myers beaches many, many times; but we have never seen any octopus there. What is your input.

Thank you for your time.
Hi Ashley,

Octopuses do actually come near shore from time to time -- they've even been known to slither around on land for a bit, probably in search of a crab during low tide. They can function fine for a short while outside of water, but they certainly won't stray far.

Thanks for the note, and thanks for visiting TONMO.com!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
7/20/01
Dear Mr. Tonmo and Cephalopodic Friends,

I was just chatting yesterday with my friend Kosta about octopusses. Kosta is writing a book about the adventures of an octopus. It promises to be an exciting book with vibrant illustrations. I recommended he visit www.tonmo.com, an excellent source for information about these passive-aggressive beauties.

In our lively discussion about the many interesting qualities that this mysterious animal posesses, we came up with a question that neither of us could answer. We would like to know how an octopus poops.

We had at least one other question too, but I will save that for another email.

Breathlessly awaiting your reply,

Your Friend

Christina

p.s. here is an octopus drawing that I made for you! this is an octopus in a square ocean. or maybe it is an octopus-themed hanky! I will make more drawings for you! It is terrific fun!

Christina's Octopus
Christina!

Firstly, thanks for the great octopus art. It's going in the Image Archives.

Secondly (or should I say, “number two”, hee-haw), the octopus' excretory system is complemented by the siphon, which is an interesting tool worthy of a closer look.

Basically, after food has been processed by the beak, digestive glands and intestines, the waste is exited through the anus, not far from the siphon (and also near the ink sac). A pretty good picture of an incurrent opening (for drawing in fresh water) and excurrent siphon can be seen here. As explained under that picture, an octopus' siphon performs a variety of important functions. One of the functions NOT mentioned on that page, however, is that the siphon also serves to jettison the waste away from the body. Relatively sanitary, I'd say, compared to some other animals I can think of.

Thanks again for the great picture. Talk to you later --

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
6/26/01
Hi

I hope that you can tell me if this is an octopus, or what it is?

The THING

[This] is a picture of a critter I found and photographed after it washed up on the beach at Carpinteria Calif. 6/23/01 at about 7pm. What do you think???

It is a firm gelatinous mass, has a brown mottled part, and clear masses & clear tenacles.

It's about 10" long, 10" wide & 5" high. What is wierd is, the tenacles seem smooth & wavy, and are missing sucker cups... possibly from the surf.

I sent emails to alert the State Park just in case it's a jellyfish & could sting kids.

I greatly appreciate your reply,

Thank you,

Aina
Hi Aina,

How nice of you to share this delightful picture with us! :-)

I have no idea what that might be, but it does not look like a cephalopod to me. Obviously the only evidence I can work with here is the picture, and it does seem to be more gelatinous than anything. A Portuguese Man-o-war, perhaps? Beyond that, you could tell me that it turned out to be a soggy peanut butter sandwich, and I'd probably believe you. Let us know what you find out!

I invite anyone with an idea about this to post your thoughts on the TONMO.com Message Board. Thanks!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
6/19/01
Dear Tony

I'm a marine biology student interested in studying cephalopods and i was wondering what grad schools offer students opportunities to work with such specimens or if there are places where students can get hands on experience with live cephs.

Brian
Hi Brian,

Are you looking for schools in the U.S.? If so, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) is home to the NRCC -- the National Resource Center for Cephalopods. This is widely considered to be the one of the most elaborate cephalopod research centers in the world, so you can't go wrong there!

Elsewhere, the Zoology department of the Univserity of Aberdeen offers extensive studies in marine and fisheries science, with concentration on cephalopods.

I hope this helps -- good luck with your studies!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
6/17/01
Hi Tony,

This is your sister. Your website looks great and is very informative! I do have a question for you...

Are any species of octopuses in danger of becoming extinct?

Also, I noticed on the message board that someone is preparing a tank for an octopus that he has ordered. Can you actually order an octopus to keep as a pet?

Thank you and happy father's day!

Love, Johanna
Hi Johanna,

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a definitive answer to your first question. I'm going to guess that since octopuses are such reclusive and solitary creatures, no one has ventured to classify any of the 150 octopus species as “endangered”.

There was an entertaining site out there called “Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus” about a make-believe, endangered octopus that lived in pine trees. Funny stuff, but the link no longer seems to be valid! I'll share the link with you anyway; maybe you'll have better luck.

As for keeping octopuses as pets, yes, you can certainly order one and keep it for yourself... But it's no small responsibility! Creating an environment to suit an octopus can be quite tedious. If you're up for it, check out Sources of Live Cephalopods. This is serious stuff!

See ya,

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
6/13/01
Hello,

i'm doing a school assignment, and I need an information concerning the octopus.

My question is the following:

How is it that an 8 foot octopus can fit through a hole that is less than five inches in diameter?

I'll be reall happy if I get an answer from you, and keep the work with your web site, it's really great.

Thank you,

Nadia.
Hi Nadia,

Thanks for the kind words...

Isn't it amazing how octopuses can pass through such narrow openings? Still, as it turns out, the answer to your question is fairly straight-forward: the octopus is an invertabrate (i.e., it has no bones), and its body is quite elastic; comprised of muscle and cartilage that helps it twist and contort into many interesting shapes (especially in the case of the Mimic Octopus). As long as it can fit it's beak and eye through an opening, the rest of the body can follow with relative ease by stretching and thinning out its muscles. When it gets through to the other side, the muscles again contract to their normal state.

I hope this helps -- good luck on your report!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
5/29/01
hello tony,

since my trips to the islands of seychelles, I came more and more into contact with octopuses, my friend is catching them.

In the beginning I was scared but now I must say that I'm quite interested to get to know everything about them, they are a marvellous species!

there is not much to find something in the web, the most I was enjoying your web-site. thanks for it.

often I read that even the scientist wonder how intelligent this species seems to be. today I read that they were able to solve some simple challenges the scientist gave them.

do you know where to find articles about these experiments?

if you find time to answer me I would be thankful. take care.

best regards from germany

beate
Hi Beate,

There are of course some very interesting experiments and observations with regard to octopus. Unfortunately, news articles about octopuses on the Internet get purged every so often, so there's not as much readily available information as we'd all like (I hope to focus this site on that effort a bit more going forward). Presently, the TONMO.com News Archives section gives a summary of news and happenings regarding cephalopods which contains a link to the article, at least until such time that I notice the link becomes dead... Then I pull the link but leave my summary there for visitors to peruse.

If you scroll to the bottom of the News Archives page today, you'll see that one of the first stories I reported on was the fact that scientists had observed octopuses were actually teaching themselves how to effectively unscrew a jam jar. It took them 30 minutes to open the jar at first (inside was a tasty crab), but with practice they were able to cut the time down to under 1 minute!

There are many great octopus stories and anecdotes out there. Some of my favorites can be found in a chapter from Richard Ellis' book,
Monsters of the Sea. Check it out, it's an all-around great book and fun to read.

Thanks for the note, and please give my regards to Germany.

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
5/20/01
Hi - what a great internet site!! My boyfriend and I are having an argument about the sounds (if any) that octopus make.. could you clear this up for us? They must be able to communicate with each other, no?

Thanks for your time,

Jeanette
Hey Jeanette,

This is a pretty good question. While octopuses communicate in a number of fascinating ways
visually, I am unable to find any information with regard to sounds an octopus might make. I would surmise it's not capable of much beyond dull a clicking sound by way of snapping its beak. But that's just a guess. If anyone else has any information on the subject, please do post it on the Message Board -- we'd like to know!

Thanks for the note, and thanks for visiting TONMO.com!

Tony Morelli
Webmaster, TONMO.COM
The Octopus News Magazine Online
/ / / / O \ \ \ \
[email protected]
4/25/01
Tony,

I find it interesting, the many references to octopus being eaten and thrown around for sporting events! Is this okay with everyone? I find it rather odd seeing as they are such interesting animals.

Thanks for the newsletter.

-sc
Hi SC!

Good question. Basically, my approach with this site is that I like to report on anything and everything pertaining to octopuses and cephalopods. (Indeed, it takes a pretty low barrier to come up with enough new information about octopuses on a weekly basis!) Sometimes (hopefully not as often as others), the news and information on this site pertains to eating octopuses, throwing them, experimenting with them or depicting them as angry or aggressively menacing creatures.

I'm with you, some of this stuff is disconcerting. I believe the octopus is a largely misunderstood creature. With this site, and with the help of the TONMO.com community, I hope to shed some light on what they're truly all about. By the way, I also don't think they're Angels of the Deep or anything like that -- but I agree with you that they're extremely interesting animals, and it's therefore worth our while to learn more about them.

Sometimes the world at large does things that would seem to disregard respect or acknowledgement of the fact that octopuses are more than just fodder for our own entertainment. When that happens, you'll probably hear about it here, hopefully in an unbiased way, sans judgement on the source. Why? I'm not trying to control public perception of octopuses, I just want to report on it. To me, people's interactions with octopuses are almost as interesting as the animals themselves.

Thanks for the note, and thanks for subscribing to the newsletter!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]
4/24/01
ok, sounds like you may know, but I can't find any info on using live octopus as cuisine. The way it came up in conversation was over dinner when a friend, who is a Rotarian, was telling a story of a friend of her's who had been on a Rotary trip to Korea and said she found it all very interesting and she did everything that came her way and ate ALMOST everything except the octopus. And the reason she didn't eat the octopus was that it was LIVE! Yep, she told it for true and said that they serve it live and the way to eat it was head first while the tentacles wrap around the diners' face. In order to get it down, the diner then wrapped the tentacles around their chopsticks, enabling them to then shove them in. Ever heard of such a thing? Are they pulling our collective legs?

Any knowledge of this or thoughts are appreciated,

TK
Hi TK!

There are indeed places in the world where people eat live octopuses, that is a fact -- but I haven't heard of the method or the details. I would imagine that eating from the top of the head would cause the octopus to wrap its tentacles around the diner's head by inverting them. Eating at the bottom of the head (i.e., from the center of the arms) wouldn't be advisable, I would think, because that's where the beak is -- I imagine that would be quite dangerous.

I do know of stories where people bite live octopuses between their eyes to kill them -- but that's the extent of that. Again, I know people do eat live octopuses, but I don't know the circumstances. Perhaps a post on the Message Board might yield some answers?

Thanks for visiting TONMO.com!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]
4/20/01
Tony,

You don't know how much joy it brings me to find other cephalopod lovers! I like your site and subscribed to the newsletter, but I didn't find out how to get a username for the message board. Can you help me with that?

Have you considered turning your hobby into your job? I've been a cephlophile for many years and am now taking some classes at the Open University to learn more about things like ecology, oceanography, zoology etc. so that one day I can actually make studying cephalopods my profession.

Did you go to CIAC 2000 in Aberdeen? I didn't and am still kicking myself! If you went and have cool stories to tell, I'd love to hear them!

kind regards,

SA
Hi SA!

Thanks for visiting my site, and thanks for subscribing to the newsletter. No, I've never attended a cephalopod-related convention of any sort. Sounds like fun, though.

Using the board is easy -- you don't have to “get” a username. Just scroll down to the bottom of the main Message Board page and fill out the form to post a new note. (I'll be redesigning that page a bit so posting a note isn't so hidden).

I do wish my hobby was a bit more lucrative. Currently I don't make a dime... But I get some great traffic and lots of excellent mail from community members such as yourself.

Thanks!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]

4/10/01

This Letter to the Editor comes in response to a question in the TONMO.com Newsletter about people's experiences with eating octopus. To subscribe to our free newsletter, enter your email address in the form on the left.
Hi,

I am a volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium and work with and give interpretative about the Giant Pacific Octopus. I don't believe I could ever again eat Octopus.

However, in the late sixties and early seventies I worked for the University of Washington as Food Manager at their Marine Biology Field Station in Friday Harbor, Washington. I was frequently given “unusual items” to cook for snacks or to serve in the dining hall. The one that stands out in my mind is the Octopus. I don't remember all the details but I have this picture of putting the arms thru the food grinder one by one and then mixing the ground meat with cracker crumbs, eggs etc. and making small octopus patties and cooking them quickly in the deep fryer. They were quite tasty and almost everyone enjoyed them.

VLG
Hi VLG,

Sounds good to me. Then again, I tend to favor most things that come from a deep fryer. :-) Thanks for sharing!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]

3/31/01
Tony,

... You should throw [the attached] octo gif on your web page. It would look great.

cs

<<attachment>>

Hey CS,

Oh, OK. :-) Thanks for the contribution!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]

2/27/01
Dear Tony,
My name is Sara and I am doing a report on the octopus. Can you tell me the scientific name for the Giant Octopus? Thank You!
Hello Sara,

Thanks for writing! Good question! I seem to find that there are many different scientific names that are associated with "Giant Octopus". In 1998, the Giant Pacific Octopus was reclassified from
Octopus dofleini to Enteroctopus dofleini. All giant octopuses from around the world belong to the genus Enteroctopus; for example, Enteroctopus hongkongensis and Enteroctopus megalocyathus. Hope this helps!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]

2/26/01
I HAVE A CHILD THAT IS 7 YEARS OLD (PAUL) AND IS INTERESTED IN HAVING A OCTOPUS AS A PET. DO YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ON THIS. PLEASE WRITE ME AND LET ME KNOW IF THIS IS POSSIBLE. CARING FOR A OCTOPUS, ETC.

THANK YOU

P. & V.
Hello P & V,

The best place to visit regarding this subject is here:

http://is.dal.ca/~ceph/TCP/sources.html

I'm sure you'll find all the information you're looking for at that site. Good luck!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]

2/20/01
Hello Tony Morelli,
My name is Shai. I am 10 years old, learning in a democratic school in Israel. I am preparing a work about the octopus birth process. Can you assist me with material on this?
Thanks,
Shai
Hello Shai,

Thanks for writing! The octopus birthing process is as interesting as the creature itself. Like many (but not all) mollusks, octopuses do not give birth to their offspring but instead they lay fertilized eggs. If the octopus has recently mated, she will fertilize the eggs herself as she lays them. The eggs are tiny (smaller than a pea), and look like raindrops. Using her saliva, she strings as many as 200 eggs together and glues it to the roof of the cave or den in which she dwells. In three weeks' time she will lay as many as 60,000 eggs!

Over the next six months or so, the mother will take great care to keep her eggs clean and free of bacteria by tending to them with her tentacles and “blowing” water on them to keep them fresh with oxygen. Meanwhile, the baby octopuses are growing and feeding off the yolks inside their egg.

When the time is right, the mother helps release all of the tiny baby octopuses from their eggs and they swim to the surface of the ocean (which can be as much as 100 feet above them). At the surface they feed on plankton, and the ones who survive will begin to float back down to the bottom of the ocean where they will spend their lives (octopuses have a life span of about 5 years, sometimes much less, depending on the species).

The mother octopus dies almost immediately after her eggs have hatched, having expended all of her energy on tending to her unborn offspring. This is just one of the many traits that makes the octopus such a unique, noble and inspiring animal in our world.

Good luck on your report; I hope this helps!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]