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Monday, May 22, 2023

What's is on your plate ! - Octopus !!

What would you generally have for breakfast ?  Idly, dosa, sambar in South India, Aloo paratha with pickle and curd in North India – never imagined that people elsewhere eat these too. 

A Hollywood movie that too James Bond movie – happening in India !!   In 2010, the whole of Spain erupted with joy as their National side reached the FIFA WC final for the first time ever beating the odds on favourite Germany by a solitary goal. Before the first kick, Germany’s fate was sealed at  Oberhausen – it was the divination of - Paul the Octopus, an ungainly looking creature,   a two-year-old who correctly predicted the results of major German international football matches especially in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.   

After fleeing knife-throwing twin assassins Mischka and Grishka in East Berlin, mortally wounded British agent 009, dressed as a circus clown and carrying a counterfeit Fabergé egg, crashes into the British ambassador's residence and dies. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement and, after the genuine Fabergé egg is to be auctioned in London, sends James Bond to identify the seller.  Bond infiltrates a floating palace in Udaipur and meets its owner, Octopussy, a wealthy businesswoman, smuggler and Khan's associate. She also leads the Octopus cult, of which Magda is a member.  

An octopus is a soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusc of the order Octopoda. The order consists of some 300 species and is grouped within the class Cephalopoda with squids, cuttlefish and more.  Like other cephalopods, an octopus is bilaterally symmetric with two eyes and a beaked mouth at the center point of the eight limbs. The soft body can radically alter its shape, enabling octopuses to squeeze through small gaps. They trail their eight appendages behind them as they swim. The siphon is used both for respiration and for locomotion, by expelling a jet of water. Octopuses have a complex nervous system and excellent sight, and are among the most intelligent and behaviourally diverse of all invertebrates.

Octopuses appear in mythology as sea monsters like the Kraken of Norway and the Akkorokamui of the Ainu, and probably the Gorgon of ancient Greece. A battle with an octopus appears in Victor Hugo's book Toilers of the Sea, inspiring other works such as Ian Fleming's Octopussy.  

Do people eat these creatures too -   Scientists  think them to be  famously intelligent creatures, but some believe them to be ones on dinner plate.

Octopuses caught in the wild using pots, lines and traps are eaten all over the world, including in the Mediterranean and in Asia and Latin America.  The race to discover the secret to breeding them in captivity has been going on for decades. It's difficult as the larvae only eat live food and need a carefully controlled environment, but Nueva Pescanova announced in 2019 that it had made a scientific breakthrough. The prospect of intensively farming octopus has already led to opposition: Lawmakers in the US state of Washington have proposed banning the practice before it even starts.

Nueva Pescanova's plans reveal that the octopuses, which are solitary animals used to the dark, would be kept in tanks with other octopuses, at times under constant light. The creatures - the species octopus vulgaris - would be housed in around 1,000 communal tanks in a two-storey building in the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.They would be killed by being put in containers of water kept at -3C, according to the documents. Man’s cruelty crosses all boundaries when it comes to money making !

In Madrid, Animal rights activists gathered to protest plans for the construction of an octopus farm in Spain, saying there are no respective laws in the country and the European Union to guarantee the welfare of the animals in captivity. The proposed farm, which aims to breed octopuses on a large scale in captivity, is scheduled to be built next year in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean. A few dozen people!!  showed up to express their concerns regarding a project that plans to confine 3 million octopuses in pools, despite these creatures being solitary predators in their natural habitat.

“It is similar to imprisoning tigers together. They will prey on one another and will also attempt to escape due to their high intelligence and adeptness," said a spokesperson for the protest called by various animal welfare organizations. He further added that, Octopuses grown in captivity will behave differently from those in the wild. “It is not possible to grow any (animal) species in the European Union without respecting their welfare conditions. It is the standard, and our group does nothing but comply with guidelines and legislations,” said   the multinational's aquaculture director.

Since the demand for octopus consumption has been on the rise, farming octopuses is being regarded as a first step towards ensuring sustainable food production.  Innately, humans are cruel to all other creatures – breeding them to kill is no art or Science but human greed and barbarism.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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