Release the Kraken!


The number of cephalopods has shot up, even as humanity’s influence on the ocean has caused many marine populations to plummet. I, for one, welcome Cthulhu our cephalopod overlords. (Washington Post)

Watch our fun video to understand why this Nat Geo photographer calls cephalopods the “James Dean of the sea” and “the scariest animals I’ve ever encountered.”

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

NGS Picture Id:490239
This tiny octopus was collected from the waters off Hawaii’s Kona coast.
Photograph by David Doubilet, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • According to a new study, cephalopod populations are booming. What are cephalopods?
    • A cephalopod is a marine animal with arms or tentacles attached to its big head. In fact, the word “cephalopod” is taken from the Greek roots “cephalo-” (head) and “-pod” (foot): head-foot.
      • Cephalopods are mollusks, related to slugs and snails.



  • Why are cephalopods nicknamed the “weeds of the sea”?
    • According to biologist Zoë Doubleday, cephalopods’ “unique set of biological traits, including rapid growth, short lifespans and flexible development … allow them to adapt to changing environmental conditions (such as temperature) more quickly than many other marine species.”


  • How will the increased population of cephalopods impact marine food webs?
    • To be determined:
      • Prey species (including commercially valuable fish and crustacean species) may face increased predation by cephalopods.
      • Species that prey on cephalopods may benefit from increased populations.
      • Cephalopod fisheries have boomed, and they may face overfishing.



Washington Post: Squids and octopuses — the ‘weeds of the sea’ — are on the rise

Nat Geo: The Amazing Squid video

(extra credit! This is a great, short introduction to scientific writing.) Current Biology: Global proliferation of cephalopods

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