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November 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Are Octopuses Taking Over?

from the November, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Cephalopod populations -- squids, octopuses, cuttlefish -- are booming and scientists don't know why. An analysis published recently in Current Biology indicates that numerous species across the world's oceans have increased in numbers since the 1950s. It's probably because we've depleted populations of predatory fish.

Octopus and their relatives have relatively short lifespans, and many of the young normally get picked off before they mature.

Furthermore, says study co-author Zoe Doubleday of the University of Adelaide, "Cephalopods tend to boom and bust. They're called the weeds of the sea," she says. "If environmental conditions are good, they can rapidly exploit those conditions because they grow so fast."

So if an intelligent race of eight-tentacled underwater creatures end up taking over the planet, we can't say we weren't warned!

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