We are undoubtedly a hypocritical society where we express extreme love for some species while thinking nothing of killing others if only to cull their population. Where do we draw the line then? The practice of eating live octopus is one such abhorrent practice that should immediately be stopped for the cruelty it evokes.
Should intelligence be a determining factor in deciding when it is okay to slit an animal’s throat or push it down our throats when it is still alive? If we were to go by that, the indiscriminate killing of some sea species should immediately come to a halt as, after humans, sea dwellers such as dolphins, orcas, sea otters, and octopuses are some of the most intelligent of them all. Intelligence is not restricted to back-boned animals but developed independently even in other classifications of living beings.
One of the eating practices that stand out as much for its cruelty as for its revolting visuals is the practice of eating live octopus. Its meat is a delicacy in many parts of the world, especially where seafood is consumed. But it is also consumed alive and the practice makes us wonder if such an intelligent creature deserves such a gory and painful end.
Animal rights activists have tried for decades to put an end to this abhorrent practice of eating live octopus. But the demand of some self-styled aficionados ensures that this repulsive practice continues in various parts of the world.
There are over 300 species of octopus starting from the giant Pacific octopus with a leg span of over 14 feet to the pygmy star-sucker octopus with legs measuring a mere one inch. They possess the highest brain-to-body ratio of all invertebrates. Their complex nervous system doesn’t give total autonomy to its limbs. They are intelligent to a level that we need to research even more.
Why Should We Avoid Eating Live Octopus?
Many people argue that there is nothing about the octopus to suggest that they are intelligent. They consider non-vertebrates to be sub-intelligent creatures. But a study of the octopus contradicts that argument. The octopus has an IQ that is at par with the dolphin, perhaps the most intelligent creature on earth after humans. they have displayed amazing and complex behavior that backs up claims of their intelligence.
Evidence backs up the claims. It is believed that the brain of the octopus is divided into nine parts. Millions of independent neurons in their brain have endowed them with the ability to process complex information, communicate intelligently, and solve intricate problems.
So the thought of eating an intelligent creature that is perfectly capable of being aware of its ordeal is not something that civilized creatures should be indulging in. unlike many creatures, the octopus is perfectly aware when it is being eaten alive.
Octopuses are highly adaptable and have adjusted to different living conditions. They live as free swimmers, bottom dwellers, and lurkers in the coral reefs. They are alpha-predators. They are cephalopods, creatures with arms attached to their heads. Eight strong independent arms surround a mouth armed with a powerful beak. They even have the advantage of possessing poison to subdue their prey or stun their predators. They are also equipped with an ink sac that can allow them to make a last-ditch escape from predators that rely on their sight for hunting.
Octopus along with squids and cuttlefish are among the few creatures that can change their color in the blink of an eye. They can match their skin tone with their surrounding, making them practically invisible unless they move. They use it to hide, warn bigger predators, and even impersonate. The mimic octopus can even take on the shape of 15 different marine species like sea snakes, lionfish, and flounders.
Their extremely complex brain and clusters of dense neurons make them especially sensitive. The neurons in their arms transform them into extremely sensory organs that give them a heightened sense of smell, touch, and taste. This quality of heightened senses continues in their limbs even an hour after it has been severed. It tries to even pick up food though it is no longer attached to its body, this makes it difficult in eating live octopus.
Does Eating Live Octopus Subject Them To Pain In The Process
We noted that the arms of the octopus are capable of working independently of one another. This ability of independent decision-making indicates that the octopus can feel and remember the origin of pain and also its concept which complicates the process of eating live octopus.
Many argue that humans ought not to eat such an intelligent creature in any form, alive or cooked. Noted cephalopod expert Jennifer Mathur believes that octopuses can forestall a stressful and painful situation. They have a strongly developed memory that enables them in this ability.
Their torture begins the moment they are captured alive and kept aside to be eaten. They are killed by clubbing or slicing open their brains. But this method is followed for various other creatures. It is the concept of eating live octopus that imparts a different level of cruelty.
A rather cruel form of eating live octopus is the Korean and Japanese dish, Sannakji, which means ‘live octopus.’ The octopus is either eaten whole, wrapped around a chopstick, or chopped up and eaten with sesame oil, while still alive. The octopus is kept alive for some time before the chef slices its head open and pulls out the intestinal tract.
This is a rather dangerous form of eating octopus. Some signs warn of the potential hazards of eating live octopus at these restaurants. The innumerable sucking cups can cling to the mouth and throat which creates a choking hazard. The neurons are fighting to stay out of harm’s way and can be extremely dangerous. Eating live octopus raises an ethical question. Should we be eating creatures that are close to us in intelligence? But the fact remains that most animals are similar to us as we belong to the same family. Every sensitive creature deserves to be protected, whatever levels of intelligence it possesses.