Don’t Flash the Octopus
I never realized, until this week, that the Octopuses have a very delicate sense of propriety. In the aquarium at Monterey there are two magnificent Octopuses in tanks, side by side, surrounded by signs saying: ‘Don’t flash the Octopus’.
This, of course, causes immense hilarity among the English visitors. It reminds me of the falling-over laughter of a group of guys on the south coast of England on seeing a house called ‘Admiral’s Hard’. I ask the lady in charge about the sensitivity of the Octopuses to the behaviour of their visitors, and she tells me that they are pretty bright, that they can distinguish their keepers from other human-beings, and that they get quite excited when they see them. She said that the pair in the Monterey aquarium are both male and prefer their own company to sharing a tank. They can drape themselves over the rocks at the bottom of their tanks and look just like a large blob of slime. Then they can miraculously reconstitute themselves and look like a regular Octopus, with body, eyes and tentacles, and whizz around their tanks pretty quickly. Lovely creatures. But they don’t like flashers.