Puffins and Giant Squid and Portuguese Water Dogs

It seems to have turned into Animal Month here at Memoranda.

Firstly, I read a wonderful story about a birding enthusiast who re-established a breeding colony of Atlantic puffins on the tiny island of Montmaray Eastern Egg Rock, off the coast of Maine. Stephen Kress and his colleagues used wooden decoys, recorded bird calls and mirrors to entice puffins and terns to nest on the island, and these techniques have now been used to help “restore 49 seabird species in 14 countries, including some extremely endangered bird species”.

Bo ObamaThen there was this story about Steve O’Shea, a marine biologist from New Zealand who is on a quest to capture (and breed) live giant squid, despite the many difficulties involved (for example, “Accustomed to living in a borderless realm, a squid reacts poorly when placed in a tank, and will often plunge, kamikaze-style, into the walls, or cannibalize other squid”). I also enjoyed Sy Montgomery’s description of the intelligence and creativity of giant Pacific octopuses1, who often do not appreciate being captured and studied by humans. According to Montgomery, “Octopuses in captivity actually escape their watery enclosures with alarming frequency. While on the move, they have been discovered on carpets, along bookshelves, in a teapot, and inside the aquarium tanks of other fish—upon whom they have usually been dining.”

Finally, it was announced this week that the world’s most famous Portuguese water dog, Bo Obama, will remain in the White House for another four years. Well done, Bo.


  1. Yes, apparently it’s octopuses. My Oxford dictionary says that “the word octopus comes from Greek, and the Greek plural form is octopodes. Modern usage of octopodes is so infrequent that many people mistakenly create the erroneous plural form octopi, formed according to rules for Latin plurals”.

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