“Humans are so far behind,” Crato said, rolling his eyes.
Hanuii had been reading the latest news from land to Crato while visiting him in his lab. It was creepy down here and she had given up paying attention to the news and had started practicing some of her newest dance moves in the mirror.
She could tell it was distracting Crato, who found her a bit annoying, but it was the only way to ignore the eerie sounds coming from deeper within the caverns of the lab. The moans. Sounds of pain. Sounds of creatures giving up — some by choice from the suffering, some just withering away from experiments gone wrong.
It was hard to think about what the Atlanteans were doing. But it had to be done. She just hoped she didn’t see Athidena come back from the surface with any bodies dragging behind her while she was here.
Hanuii swallowed, chasing away the thought with the news. Positive news. Good news. She said: “You can’t blame humans for being so primitive in their beliefs about other animals. I’ve been watching—”
“Watching too much,” Crato said, not looking up from his activity. He sounded like he was giving her a warning. Telling her to stay away from the surface.
“I’ve been watching,” Hanuii continued, watching Crato contemplate his next move. “And it’s quite clear that humans are a little self-absorbed. They don’t really pay attention to the true nature of the other creatures around them.”
“No,” Crato said, moving a chess piece forward, deep in concentration. “They are self-absorbed.”
He was correcting her.
Hanuii rolled her eyes. She was aware of the humans’ shortcomings but felt Crato was a bit too harsh. She had seen the good. She had seen the bad. Yeah, there was a lot of bad. Wars, injustice, ignorance, violence… But when she saw beautiful acts of kindness amidst the negativity, she couldn’t help but have compassion herself.
“Still, this is a win. This means they are finally starting to see the intelligence — the value — of the beings in the waters. And that means, they might start thinking more about us, our land, our friends…”
“Ah,” Crato said, studying the board. “So humans can only care about the ocean if they deem some of the animals smart. Typical.”
Crato groaned inwardly, holding in anger. He watched his queen fall.
“We’ll take what we can,” Hanuii continued. “Now that they acknowledge octopus, lobsters, and crabs as sentient, they will care for them more. They will treat them with more respect. And that leads—”
“You don’t have to explain it to me,” Crato said.
Hanuii shrugged. She was done dealing with him for now. She sighed, getting ready to leave. But before she did, she turned around and smirked: “Check mate.”
Crato looked at her, confused, then looked back down at the board. The octopus had cornered his king. There was no escape. He had lost. The octopus changed color in excitement, knocked over Crato’s king, and then followed Hanuii to the door.
UK Recognizes Cephalopods as Sentient
The UK government has just recognized octopus, squid, cuttlefish, lobsters, crabs, and prawns as sentient beings in their animal welfare bill. This is great news, although most people with love for the oceans have known that octopus and other cephalopods and decapods are very, very intelligent.
Octopus can solve puzzles, use tools, trick other animals… But more importantly, octopus, squid, and the like have feelings. They don’t just physically feel pain, but have emotions. And now, these curious and passionate creatures are protected by the animal welfare bill as of November 19.
This decision was made after the London School of Economics and Political Science reviewed evidence gathered from hundreds of scientific studies on these two invertebrate groups.
Said Scientific American: “Increasingly, some researchers are suggesting octopuses’ combination of smarts and sheer difference from humans could make them an ideal model for inferring common rules governing complex brain function, in addition to revealing novel neurological workarounds cephalopods have evolved.”
But they are not alone. Other studies have shown that lobsters are similarly smart. Researchers who study lobsters say that their intelligence rivals that of octopuses. Crabs are also said to be very intelligent, able to get out of complex mazes, remember complex memories, and experience true love.
After proving that these creatures do, indeed, feel pain and have complex thoughts, the UK government will now consider their welfare before making future government decisions.
This is important.
Not only will these specific creatures get the respect they deserve, this means that future decisions about the ocean will have to discuss how these actions will impact the octopus, squid, and lobster. Companies won’t be able to freely damage their environment. Fishers won’t be able to destroy civilizations.
It’s a start to what could be part of a bigger solution.
Crato started putting the chess board back together. Yes, he had flipped it in anger. But he was already over it — the smarter being had won. Crato put the pieces back where they belong, getting it ready for when his octopus friend came back tomorrow for a rematch.