Friday Cephalopod: And I would hug him and squeeze him and call him George

A certain deep, primal part of my brain went "Squeeee!" at this video of a nautilus being fed by hand. I want one. I want a cephalopod to be my friend. But sorry, people, taking an exotic animal out of the ocean and confining it to an aquarium is not exactly the friendliest thing to do…and a lot of cephalopods are finicky and delicate.

Still, you have to love that face.


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Wow, where can you find the cephalopods and is it aggressive animals or do you just think that it is unethical to take it out of nature?

If the purpose of keeping animals in zoos is to encourage people to go "squeeeee!" and say "I want one", then that's clearly unethical. (Diatribe about the $10-20 Billion/year exotic pet trade removed.)

Zoos have lots of other purposes, but let's not kid ourselves that bringing exotic animals into captivity is doing them any favours. One would hope that zoos provide a venue for people to learn to appreciate animals and value natural systems. My experience is that because of funding pressure, zoos are turning to selling the spectacle because that brings in more customers. We're certainly not encouraged - or don't have time as we're shuffled from one display to another in a crowd of entertainment-seekers - to think about these animals, where they came from, or why they're better off in a zoo than in their home range.

Belinda: "cephalopods" are the group of squids, octopi, nautiluses, and cuttlefish. The cephalopods featured on this blog (see past posts) are probably a good way to learn about them. Only a few are dangerous or aggressive, but they are adapted to such a different environment that it is not possible to give most of them decent living conditions or to allow them to reproduce in captivity. So the problems are ethical.

This one, the chamber nautilus, was reportedly one inspiration for the invention of submarines, because of the way it can change buoyancy to travel at different depths. You can imagine why an animal like that would be hard to keep in its accustomed conditions in any kind of acquarium.

By psalmanazaar (not verified) on 27 Mar 2015 #permalink

These truly are extraordinary creatures! I did some reading on the chamber nautilus. The chamber nautilus is one of the few known species that survived over the years. It is said that the chamber nautilus has not changed in over 400 million years. We can say it is a living fossil. These species are also harvested for their shells. This leads to a decrease in their population.

To insure that these extraordinary creatures survive, they should not be taken from the sea.

By J van Zyl (not verified) on 28 Mar 2015 #permalink

Give us a break with the animals rights ideology garbage. Eating and fishing for aquatic life is not so great for them, but I have a feeling that you wouldn't object to that. At least we can learn a lot from keeping them captive. But there is nothing wrong with keeping animals, exotic, oceanic, or otherwise, with the exception of them doing terribly in captivity. That being said, nautili are for advanced keepers only.

By Melissa S (not verified) on 28 Mar 2015 #permalink

These animals should be left in their natural habit, they do not belong in aquariums. How do people expect to learn from them when they are no longer in their natural habitat? They should be observed in the ocean were they belong and not kept as pets.

The greatest problem that arises from keeping animals such as these in aquariums is that we use these animals to learn from and to learn how they live, but we cannot always use this knowledge to help the animals to survive, the greatest example being the rhinos.
Many people use the excuse that animals are kept in zoos and personal aquariums (the latter to a lessor extent) for their own protection and to prevent the species from dying out as a whole, since there would always be some portion of the species alive even though they in captivity and unable to be released into the wild. Many times people are under the impression that keeping the animals in captivity is 'for their own good', but maybe instead of keeping a species alive in captivity, we should start protecting them better in their natural environment.


I don't particularly agree that aquariums are harmful at all. People can learn from what they see and possibly develop different ways of protecting and encouraging reproduction of such species. I think it is stunning to watch. Definitely something that people need to experience.

By Kay Mooney 15022219 (not verified) on 30 Mar 2015 #permalink

There are many pros and cons to keeping wild exotic animals in captivity, it just depends on how it's done. It's true that without keeping exotic marine life in aquariums that many people would never be able to observe them, learn about them or appreciate their incredible beauty but at the same time it could be argued that all animals are not just here to entertain humans. I think that if animals are kept in captivity for reasons that promote the continuation of the species and provide us with the knowledge to do so, then it is more justifiable; as long as the conditions they are kept in resemble their natural environments as closely as possible and prevent excessive stress to the animal.

By Jodi (u15048421) (not verified) on 30 Mar 2015 #permalink

I agree that we can use aquariums to learn from; however, there are so many aquariums out there which has led to many aquatic animals being removed from their natural habitat. The example of what's happening to dolphins in Japan is truly horrific and is a result of people wanting to see these beauties in an unnatural environment which ultimately only benefits the people and is honestly quite selfish.

By u15051197 (not verified) on 30 Mar 2015 #permalink

Melissa S: But there is nothing wrong with keeping animals, exotic, oceanic, or otherwise, with the exception of them doing terribly in captivity.


I agree that it is necessary for us to study these creatures, but we don't have to take them out of their natural habitats. They belong in the ocean and that is where they must stay. The research can be done in the ocean itself.

By L van Rensburg… (not verified) on 31 Mar 2015 #permalink

I agree that they belong in the ocean, but how is researchers supposed to study them to the extreme if they may only stay in their natural habitat? When the creatures are kept in tanks, researchers have maximal access to them and more information can be recorded of them.

By A Korb 15073263 (not verified) on 31 Mar 2015 #permalink

As long as the species being kept in captivity is not endangered, then I see no issue with keeping a few individuals. The knowledge gained from the research that can be done on them could prove to be invaluable and could make the difference in the quest to preserve their species in the future. With proper care and facilities there is absolutely no reason why these captive individuals should suffer and live a horrible life.

By Keagan Loader … (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

This situation is similar to that of taking a wild animal and placing it in a zoo. If an animal is meant to live in the wild, then it should not be kept in captivity for humans to have as pets. If research is being conducted on the creature, wouldn't the researcher have more accurate results when observing the creature's behaviour in its natural habitat?

By Palesa Zulu u1… (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

There are way too many sea creatures for all of them to be contained in an aquarium and in all honestly not all sea creatures need to be or should be placed in an aquarium. It's interesting learning of the existence of new animals in their natural habitat (a Cephalopod is definitely new to me) and it wouldn't be as interesting learning about these animals from behind a glass

By Thembekile Mkh… (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

This animal is beautiful, even in an aquarium, just think how wonderful it will be to see it in the ocean. Although I do feel that in order to discover more about animals that is present in our large ocean we do sometimes need to keep some in captivity.

I agree with Melissa S, can we please stop pointing fingers and telling people to put their animal back into the wild. Take a second and just observe a truly remarkable animal. I did not even know that this animal even existed. In a 40 second video I was able to see a close up view of how it moves, feeds and even its susceptibility to be tamed. There is defiantly a place for zoos and aquariums especially for endangered animals. I would personally have for example leopard alive in captivity than dead in the wild. Think about poaching and that it only happens in the wild, I have yet to hear about a poacher hoping to obtain himself a leopard pelt from the leopard enclosure at the local zoo.

By Charldon Viljo… (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

Species should be studied in their natural habitat as man made habitats are considerably different. For example different species of coral and animals.

By Megan (u15031153) (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

Captivity is a contentious issue throughout much of the world and across many different species. Issues for animals in captivity is that the environment forced upon them shares no resemblance to their natural environment. This inherent lack of similarity between natural and captive environment causes the animals to become stressed and bored. This stress and boredom results because of the size of their enclosures and lack of mental stimulation provided to the animal. This causes the animal to exhibit repetitive behavior known as "Abnormal Repetitive Behavior(ARB)" The fact is that captive animals live a very mundane life with little or no stimulation.

I don't think it is wrong to keep sea animals in an enclosure like an aquarium, as long as they are cared for and their living space resemble their natural habitat. The same will apply to wild animals in a zoo. Special care should be taken to ensure that they have enough space and freedom. Some places take injured animals (injuries sometimes caused by humans) that would have died in the wild and rehabilitate them before releasing them again into their natural habitat. These institutions help to preserve our sea and wildlife and help us to understand the animal kingdom better. (u15021875)

It cannot possibly be ethical to keep animals captive. It is unnatural, and I do not believe humans have begun to understand the consequences of doing so. Put a human in a room with a TV and feed them periodically; same concept, right? But then we would be studying the psychological and physiological results of keeping a human in a room, not the natural behaviour of the species. Interacting with animals in their natural environment would surely be so much better, because then we are examining them in as natural a state as possible, and if we were to make generalisations of the species, I believe this would be the safest time to do so. Why then are animals being stolen from their natural habitat and kept in jars, the jar shaken a bit, and then their reaction studied? It is not fair, and it is unethical. Prime example would be that of Tilly the Orca, kept captive in SeaWorld, California. The only reason the story of Tilly is widely publicised is because of the amount of people he has killed. Interesting fact: there is not a single case of Orcas killing any human in the wild. Not one, ever. Perfect example of what nature does when one treats her improperly.

By de Bruyn, C.N… (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink