Octopuses also display playful behavior under less controlled conditions. For example, Louis the octopus at the Blue Quay Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall was given a Mr. Potato Head for Christmas. Evidently, he has become quite attached to it:
Louis turned the Mr. Potato Head into a personal food stash, stuffing fish and other goodies inside it for later. He also attacks any aquarium workers who try to take the toy away. Personally, I would let him have it.
Octopuses' intelligence and tendency to play can make them trouble-makers at many aquariums. Take this incident in February, 2009 at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The aquarium's bored octopus disassembled a water recycling valve during the night, causing hundreds of gallons of sea water to spew all over the aquarium floor. The incident cost the aquarium at least $15000 in damages. At least the octopus was amused.
Or take this incident in October, 2008 at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany. Otto the octopus had already developed a reputation for mischief, having learned to entertain himself by juggling rocks and hermit crabs and occasionally smashing the glass of his tank in the process. However, Otto decided to set his sights a little higher, specifically at the overhanging 2000-watt spotlight above his tank. Otto squirted water at this light, causing a short-circuit that deprived power to the entire aquarium and endangered the denizens that required temperature maintenance at a specific level.
Beyond having an ability and propensity to cause mischief, octopuses also have incredible flexibility and dexterity. Because the only hard portion of their body is their beak, even large specimens can fit into surprisingly small spaces.
Add to this flexibility an incredible ability to change both the color and texture of their skin. For example, all the octopuses in the following picture are the same octopus.
Some species of octopuses use this ability to great effect; one species, the Mimic Octopus, mimics other animals to deceive both predators and prey.
Given their intelligence and their wide array of abilities, it's surprising octopuses haven't yet banded together to conquer the planet in one mass of octopodian fury. Then again, they've already started to do away with some of their major oceanic competition:
I don't know about you, but I'm going to start making sacrifices to our future eight-legged overlords to be on the safe side.
Kuba, et al. (2003). Looking at play in octopus vulgaris. Berliner Paläobiol. Abh., 3, 163-169.
*Contrary to popular belief, octopus is not a Latinate noun, but rather a Greek one. Therefore, the plural form should be octopuses or octopodes, not octopi. Even if octopus was a Latinate noun, the correct plural would be octopes. I was surprised too.
Edit: Courtesy of a helpful reader:
On searching the origin of the word even further, I found that "octopus" is a made-up word from the 15th or 16th century to classify the animal known in Latin as a "polypus". So it's not really truly Greek or Roman, and how you pluralize it is a matter of common usage rather than proper grammar.
AND (to be even more picky)
The Latinate plural would not be "octopes" unless the singular were "octopis". As a Latin scholar (I took 7 years of Latin), I can tell you that a proper Latin plural of a word ending in "us" ends in "i".
So, I suppose when you get down to it, you can choose your own pluralization. However, as I mention in my comment, in terms of sounding cool, octopodes > all.