Who’s side will you be on when it comes to cephalopods versus humans?
Though the land takeover hasn’t quite happened yet, cephalopods — you may know them better as squid, octopus and cuttlefish, among others — are taking over oceans.
Since the 1950s, of the 35 species studied, most have seen a population boom, according to a new report in Current Biology.
The findings are particularly surprising since human action has taken a toll on the world’s ocean environment, with overfishing and the collapse of coral reefs among the losses.
But cephalopods have a unique set of traits that not only allow them to survive, but thrive in a changing environment.
Things like short lifespans, fast growth and flexible development make cephalopods the “weeds of sea,” said report author Zoë Doubleday of the University of Adelaide in a statement.
“These allow them to adapt to changing environmental conditions (such as temperature) more quickly than many other marine species, which suggests that they may be benefiting from a changing ocean environment,” she said.
Researchers started out looking at the decline of the giant Australian cuttlefish. As they expanded the study out to other cephalopods and found that not only were other species not declining, they were thriving.
And since the initial study, the giant Australian cuttlefish population started to grow too.
But there’s no one reason that octopuses and squids are surviving better than other oceanic life, but some human interaction is suspected. Researchers believe overfishing of cephalopods natural predators as well as global warming may play a role.
It’s not clear what this will ultimately do to the world’s oceans.
For one, Science magazine points out cephalopods are known predators with healthy appetites — some are known to eat roughly 30 percent of their body weight daily.
However, don’t fear our cephalopod overlords just yet — the ocean has a way of stabilizing itself and cephalopods aren’t squeamish when it comes to eating their own.
“There’s always competition stabilizing things,” Doubleday told Science. “I don’t know whether we’ll eat them first or they’ll start eating each other.”