There will never be a cuttlefish in the cabinet – and that makes me sad | Emma Beddington


Octopuses and their relatives are remarkably clever and controlled. How many of our top politicians can say the same?

Back in the gentler days of the internet, before it was just bots and people shouting at tea, I had a blog, and through it, occasional exchanges with a woman I described as my “cephalopod correspondent”. She would write, sharing interesting titbits about squid behaviour, cuttlefish news and, once, a picture of “an Octopus cyanea on a penny”.

I think of her often now, as every week it seems we learn something spectacular about the tentacular. Octopuses are competent and creative problem-solvers, can master mazes, and frequently escape from captivity. They can even predict the outcome of football matches (OK, possibly not, but octopus Paul’s strike rate was impressive). Our collective fascination only deepened with last year’s Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher, a lovely exploration of the curiosity and resourcefulness of one uncommonly touching common octopus. Perhaps even better was the relatable recent revelation that octopuses sometimes punch their fish co-workers when on joint hunting missions: it has certainly deepened my respect for them.

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