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Fear of Extinction: Protecting Tree Octopuses near you

This endangered species risks danger of extinction without the help and support of Tacomans.

Sightings of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus around I-5 have raised concerns over the safety of this endangered species. This famous species native to the region usually inhabits areas around Point Defiance Park.

“On walks around here, people usually miss them, since they live up in the trees. So, it’s always smart to come out here with a pair of binoculars to try to spot them. They tend to shy away from crowded areas,” said local hiker, Emily Carmack. 

Because of this, the high frequency of these sightings around I-5 is very unusual. As prefaced, they are an endangered species with dwindling numbers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“Through the mass deforestation in the construction of roads and suburban life encroaching, we have tried all that we can to protect these octopuses. So it’s very disheartening to see our work to preserve this small population unravel,” said Octopus Scientist, Dr. Koris.

These small creatures have been spotted out on the roadsides of I-5, left to fend for themselves. 

“It’s not right. On I-5, cars speed across at 60 to 80 miles per hour. Of course these octopuses are in danger of getting hurt,” Carmack said.

Local scientists speculate the reason many have been seeing tree octopuses outside their natural habitat is not because of deforestation, but rather due to other concerning reasons.

“With quarantine, we’ve seen a lot of folks pick up new pets for their homes. But, it’s one thing to adopt an animal from a shelter and another to take a wild animal from its natural habitat,” Dr. Koris said. 

There are many ways that students, staff and faculty can contribute in protecting these creatures. Dr. Koris stressed the importance of not taking these octopuses in as pets. 

“I ask the UW Tacoma community to tell your friends and family that if they see these octopuses, let them be. Advise them against taking these creatures in for notoriety. They need to stay where they belong,” Koris said.

As for being on the road, there are ample ways that the UWT community can watch out for these creatures and help keep them safe. 

“I advise that people drive with caution. These creatures are easily spooked and we wouldn’t want any of them to get hurt or killed by the high velocity of traffic,” Koris said.  

Because of these concerns, Tacomans like Emily Carmack and Dr. Koris have been pleading with the city for a temporary halt to the construction of I-5. This way the octopuses can be relocated by local scientists back into their natural habitats. 

“We ask our fellow Tacomans to demand the relocation and safety of this endangered species. These octopuses are the only ones of their kind left in the area. We must fight to protect them while we still can,” Koris said. 

As a reminder for students, staff and faculty to have a happy April Fool’s Day. 

MORE INFORMATION: https://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/