We already know that plastic is taking over our beautiful oceans in incredibly destructive ways. It seems every day we are faced with a story that brings the issue under glaring lights.
Usually, these stories are heartbreaking, but this story about a resourceful octopus and a dedicated diver is actually uplifting – while still drawing awareness to the plastic pollution problem.
The video surfaced online showing scuba divers in Lembeh, Indonesia convincing a baby veined octopus to leave the unnatural (and unsafe) home he’d made in a plastic cup in exchange for a couple of seashells.
The divers were so dedicated to their mission that they almost ran out of air in the process!
Pall Sigurdsson and fellow divers were enjoying an ocean dive when they discovered a cute little baby octopus living in a plastic cup.
The divers searched the nearby area for something to replace the cup with. They found several seashells.
Pall Sigurdsson is an engineer who is passionate about diving. He is from Iceland and enjoys filming animals on his underwater adventures.
Sigurdsson spoke to Bored Panda for an interview about his encounter with the baby octopus who lived in a cup.
“This was our third dive that day, and we were all starting to get a little bit tired. My dive buddy sent me a hand signal indicating that he had found an octopus and asked me to come over for help,” he said.
At first the octopus didn’t want to leave his unique plastic home…
But the team of divers couldn’t stand the idea of leaving him in the toxic ocean trash that offered him zero protection.
The divers described the cup as a “death sentence” if the octopus continued to live in it.
Sigurdsson and his pals stayed so long trying to convince the octopus to move on over to the shell that they almost ran out of oxygen.
Instead of exploring the ocean floor, as they had come to do, the divers spent pretty much their entire dive dedicated to helping the octopus in a cup. They used up almost all of their oxygen in the process.
The divers even went so far as to find a couple of different options for the octopus. Finally, the veined octopus saw one that he liked enough to relocate.
Luckily, their hard work paid off and they were able to get the octopus to move out of his current shack and into much better living quarters.
“I am no stranger to seeing octopi making homes out of trash. They are clever animals and use their environment to their advantage, and trash is a permanent part of their environment now,” Sigurdsson explained.
“However the octopus with its soft tentacles did not know that this cup offers virtually no protection, and in a competitive environment like the ocean, this cup was a guaranteed death sentence.”
Veined octopi naturally look for objects in the ocean that they can hide in to protect themselves from predators. They often reside in coconut or clamshells, creating a mobile home. This is how they earned the nickname coconut octopi.
If they can’t find a good shell to protect them, they will take advantage of whatever they can find; which, in this case, was a plastic cup.
Excited about his new home, the octopus almost forget the other half of his shell.
Unfortunately, the plastic cup was completely transparent and so predators could see him regardless if he felt safe or not. In addition, any predator that discovered the octopus would have consumed him right along with the plastic.
As a result of eating plastic, the predator would have become weak and possibly even died. At which point, another predator would swoop in and the plastic-consuming cycle would continue on its never-ending reign of destruction.
“There are good days, and there are bad days depending on ocean currents,” Sigurdsson shared when asked how often he encounters plastic pollution while diving. “Some days, you see so much trash that it is almost impossible to film sea creatures without also including trash.”
“Once I saw a family of anemone fish living next to a corroded battery. That was heartbreaking,” sighed Sigurdsson.
It was a happy ending for this little octopus who swam off into the sunset…
Conservationists estimate that there is around 260,000 tons of plastic waste floating free in our oceans.
This pollutes the water and puts marine life in danger when they mistake it for food and swallow it or become caught in it and can no longer move or grow properly.
“Most trash (including plastic) sinks. Most people only talk about the parts that they can see. The part that floats, but that’s just scratching the surface of the problem. Plastic straws are a minuscule part of the problem,” said Sigurdsson.
Watch the full clip below: