Scientists Seek the Secrets of a Cefalopod so Intelligent that it can not be Tamed, You Will Not Believe Who It Is

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Nueva Pescanova and Armadora Pereira embark separately in the investigations of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography and the CSIC in search of the secrets of a cephalopod so intelligent that it is not allowed to domesticate.

“About the octopus everything is missing for writing, they are extremely intelligent animals, much more than a fish, and infinitely superior to a mussel, even their babies have character, and you see that when they get angry they send you a microscopic cloud of ink, they distrust, they are afraid to eat what you give them, they are sensitive and they demand very special living conditions, that is why they are so difficult to raise “. Álvaro Roura, soul of the Ecobiomar group in the Institute of Marine Research (IMM) of the CSIC (Superior Council of Scientific Research) in Vigo, describes with “fascination” a species that has been investigating its wild environment for years.

Many aspects of octopus life are still “a mystery”. And he has taken his time to discover part of them before shutting himself up with the larvae in the CSIC since a year and a half ago Armadora Pereira, one of the first brands in the frozen octopus sector in Galicia, decided to disembark in the scientific career by Lead breeding in captivity. In the Galician city they work daily with this mission, currently separately, two centers dependent on the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities: the IIM team, led by Ángel F. González, and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) , under the command of Pedro Domingues. To the pulse has been added in recent months Nueva Pescanova, which will have preference in the IEO patent, supposedly very close to the goal.

Octopus aquaculture for commercial purposes may take two to four more years to become a reality. ” It is the great business moment to invest in research,” says Roura. “Armadora Pereira and Nueva Pescanova have gotten wet because at the end they are seeing results.” The key is to achieve an à la carte diet that serves as an alternative to the unviable diet based on larvae of crab, prohibitive food for any fish farm that octopus larvae feed on in the sea. After countless failed trials and the death of hundreds of thousands of tiny octopuses (death rates between 97% and 99% in the first month and a half of life), the menu is being refined while the environmental variables of the tanks in a struggle to achieve higher survival rates.

In this war, more and more the larvae manage to live is a victory. The percentages of living individuals that manage to settle are secrets jealously guarded in the scientific institutes, but the Oceanographic of Vigo, which works in this mission with that of Tenerife, ensures that its latest results are “spectacular”. Right now there are juvenile specimens (those that surpassed the larval stage, after two months of life, settle in the background to develop until adulthood) in the two research centers in Vigo. If everything goes its course, within a year will be octopus of a kilo.

This strange king of the cephalopods that seems to have come from another planet has never been so demanded, nor has it been so scarce , nor has it been as expensive as now. The one from the Galician estuaries is exported to the Asian markets and the United States while the imported from Morocco, captured in the Canary-Saharan bank, is consumed here. It is the same Octopus vulgaris , but it does not taste the same or have the same texture. Galician is darker and has longer arms because it has adapted to a rocky bottom against the more sandy south. On the eve of the ban imposed by the Xunta at the doors of last summer, and due to the shortage, the City council of Lugo announced the generalized rise of the price of the ration of 250 grams in the patron saint festivities of the city: 50%, from eight to twelve euros. It was never seen, but the example of this unpopular decision was followed everywhere. Tapas are becoming smaller and octopus to feira has become a luxury item.

Scientists Seek the Secrets of a Cefalopod so Intelligent that it can not be Tamed, You Will Not Believe Who It Is

With the Portuguese scientist Pedro Domingues in Galicia and Ricardo Tur at the head of the trials in the Canary Islands, on November 8 the IEO announced that it had managed to “reproduce octopuses in captivity after 20 years of research on the larval culture” of the Octopus vulgaris , and described it as an “international scientific milestone”. With his new patent of cultivation and feeding techniques, the team affirms, the “growth of the larvae with a more profitable and replicable methodology than those used up to now”. The fattening of the juvenile specimens until becoming adults “was something already solved” and much simpler, because “it has been carried out for years with specimens captured in the sea”.

The CSIC team, meanwhile, made public its progress on December 17. “It has been shown that it is possible to feed octopus larvae without crustacean larvae, administering enrichment to artemia that simulates the composition of natural prey”, explained the IMM. Artemia is a crustacean branquiopod that barely evolved since the Triassic and that constitutes an effective source of food for farmed species.

The octopuses have a short life, about two years. The adult females look for underwater caves that cover with huge stones and remain inside, without eating, for two to three months delivered to a future family of between 300,000 and a half million eggs that hang as if weaving a delicate lace. If a strange being approaches, they fight hard for their children, and when they finally hatch they have already run out of muscle in their arms and soon die.

But one of the biggest mysteries of the Octopus vulgaris was where they hid, in the natural environment, the paralarvae of more than 10 days and more than three suckers in each arm. These were the only ones Álvaro Roura could find in each expedition through the coastal zone, without finding a trace of those that continued to evolve to the shape of octopus, with 22 or 23 suckers, entrances in the juvenile phase and settled in the bottom. The solution to this question has just been published in the specialized magazine Progress in Oceanography .

The researcher discovered that octopus larvae are the only example of a coastal cephalopod that develops its planktonic stage (the pre-benthic phase of adults) in the ocean, some 200 kilometers offshore. When they do not measure more than three millimeters “they travel like Nemo”, says the biologist. They take advantage of the superficial cold water currents, move on board these “highways” pushed by the wind “without consuming energy”. But it remains to know how they return, with more than twenty suckers in each arm, turned into juveniles and ready to descend the water column to the bottom of the continental shelf. “We need to go many more times to the sea to confirm it, but we assume that they return by taking advantage of other currents”,


Source: El Pais