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Cephalopod Awareness Days: Searching for Cephalopods

October 8, 2013

Photo of some cephaolopods in the Naturalist Center. On left is a clear plexiglass box with a cut chambered nautilus inside. In the center is a brown fossil ammonite. On the right is a brown and whites striped chambered nautilus. Photo by Trsh Weavern

Some cephalopods in the Naturalist Center. Left: cut chambered nautilus in plexiglass. Center: fossil ammonite. Right: model of a chambered nautilus. Photo by Trish Weaver

Greetings Blogophiles! Happy Cephalopod Awareness Days!!! I sincerely hope your celebrations are off to a tentacular start. Today (October 8) is Octopus Day so it’s serendipitous that before I get focused on today’s blog, there is some excellent news to report about an octopus conservation effort. As of October 6, the state of Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Department has banned the recreational harvest of Pacific Octopuses at seven popular diving sites in Puget Sound. Woo hoo! In support, please feel free to wave your tentacles with great abandon.

Photo of Preserved octopus in jar. Found in the Nature's Explorers Hall. Photo by Trish

Preserved octopus in jar. Found in the Nature’s Explorers Hall. Photo by Trish Weaver

Back to blogging…Last week as I was sitting around my office thinking about cephalopods and bemoaning the lack of live octopuses in my life, it dawned on me that perhaps there are cephalopods lurking about the Museum that I am unaware of. To remedy this offensive oversight in my education, I promptly began my search for cephalopods in the Museum.

Photo of model of a nautiloid from a diorama in the Paleo. Hall. The background is  bluish-green the nautiloid has a witish coiled shell and brown tentacles. Photo by Trish Weaver

Model of a nautiloid from a diorama in the Paleo. Hall. Photo by Trish Weaver

I have worked at the Museum for almost 15 years now and truth be told, I had no idea there were so many cephalopods on display. I found cephalopods on three of the four floors of the Main Museum and all three floors of the Nature Research Center. Who knew? From puppets in the Discovery Center, to specimens on exhibit and in the Naturalist Center, to books, magnets and toys in the two Museum stores, to drawings in the micro-world iLab, to dioramas, and to videos on the biodiversity wall, turns out cephalopods are everywhere.  Seriously…Who knew? Perhaps I should crawl out of the basement more often.

Photo of cephalopods in the Museum store. In this photo there are two books, 1 blackish jar, two reddish octopuses, some yellow and some red squid. How many do you see? Photo by Trish Weaver

The Museum store is a great place to find and learn about cephalopods. How many do you see? Photo by Trish Weaver

Cephalopods at the Museum appear to form a perfect bridge  between art and science. With an ammonite specimen on one end and an orthocone cephalopod (part of the commissioned art panel) at the other, they even bridge the bridge between Main Museum and the NRC. Once the third floor bridge opens there will be even more cephalopods for me to become aware of. It’s almost too much for my vertebrate brain to handle.

Photo of an orthocone cephalopod on a commissioned tile near the entrance to the 2nd floor bridge on the Museum side.  The cephalopod is purplish-blue, long and straight. The background is yellow and there are some white shells, as well as, a gray coilled snail depicted on the tile. Original artwork by Barbara Page. Photo by Trish Weaver

Orthocone cephalopod on a commissioned tile near the entrance to the second floor bridge on the Museum side. Original artwork by Barbara Page. Photo by Trish Weaver

Below is a list of different cephalopods I found in my wanderings around the Museum.

  • Ammonites (Naturalist Center, 3rd floor Paleo. Hall, Store, 2nd floor bridge NRC side, 3rd floor column wrap NRC)
  • Chambered nautilus (Naturalist Center)
  • Coiled fossil nautiloid (3rd Floor Paleo. Hall)
  • Dumbo octopus (2nd floor NRC Biodiversity Wall)
  • Humboldt squid (2nd floor NRC Biodiversity Wall video)
  • Octopus (2nd floor Nature’s Explorers Hall, Museum stores, Discovery Center, 2nd floor NRC Biodiversity Wall video)
  • Orthocone cephalopods ( Museum store, 2nd floor bridge Museum side, Naturalist center)
  • Paper nautilus (Naturalist Center)
  • Squid (Museum store,  2nd floor NRC Biodiversity Wall video)
  • Vampire squid (1st floor Coastal Hall, 2nd floor NRC Biodiversity Wall)Phot of models of a vampire squid (red, upper right) and a dumbo octopus (yellowish-brown, lower left) in the Biodiversity wall diorama. Photo by Trish Weaver
    Models of a vampire squid and a dumbo octopus in the Biodiversity Wall diorama. Photo by Trish Weaver

Did any of you notice I didn’t find a cuttlefish? Perhaps you can find one because now it’s your turn. I challenge you to a cephalopod scavenger hunt. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find as many cephalopods as possible to be aware of and to report on what you find. There are no rules to this scavenger hunt. It can happen anywhere at anytime, though I do recommend taking a stroll through the museum if you live locally. The purpose of this activity is simply to become aware of the cephalopods around you. I suspect you might be pleasantly surprised at how many you find. Until next time, happy hunting.

Photo of an ammonite I found in  3rd floor Paleo. Hall.  The ammonite is grayish-black. Note the leaf-like suture patterns on the shell. Photo by Trish Weaver

Ammonite I found in the third floor Paleontology Hall. Note the leaf-like suture patterns on the shell. Photo by Trish Weaver

 

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