Home > A Nightclub of Naughty VOICES, A Veldt of Animal VOICES > Introducing Stella and Humphrey

Introducing Stella and Humphrey

Dear Dr. Ichovitzsky:

I recently read your article, “The Sex Lives of Starfish,” and viewed the accompanying video with your photograph on its cover. I found it all most elucidating. I perfected my PHD thesis, “The Sex Life of Octopuses” (due to be published in the March edition of “Sealegs”) last night, and I must tell you that there are striking similarities between starfish and octopuses when it comes to the mating ritual; the only striking difference is (of course) the role reversal. As you discovered, it is the male starfish that gives birth, a breathtaking phenomenon, rare in nature.

When a male octopus is in heat, he wriggles his legs, just as a female starfish wriggles her points. By employing a marine audio laser, I was able to hear the subtle song of the male octopus in heat, as he wriggles his feet. Oddly enough, it sounds like a cross between Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and an obscure folk song by Bela Bartok that has never been published or performed. You can imagine: the song is riveting. It attracts all female octopuses within a radius of 31 miles. What happens next is truly esoteric. The female octopuses vie ferociously for first place with the male, forming a totally out of control football huddle. It’s exceedingly difficult to tell what’s actually going on without employing sea opera binoculars, which, as I’m sure you know, are very hard to find. I procured a pair and was thus able to discern a rhythmic flapping of a plenitude of legs all entwined. My audio laser registered a hissing whisper.

Eventually, the legs of the female octopuses form a tight sailors’ milleoctocross knot and when that occurs, the male octopus jumps onto the knot as if it were a trampoline. During the ensuing mating ritual, the male bounces on this knot at a rate of 53 bounces per second and the voices of the male octopus and the female octopuses crescendo to attain an almost inaudible high-pitched screech, similar in tonality to the death song of the Samoan conch (with which I am sure you’re familiar) but also reminiscent of the screech uttered by the male starfish.

This bouncing and screeching activity lasts for 3 to 346 seconds, depending on the age and physical endurance of the male octopus, who collapses and dies when he can no longer keep it up. At that point, the female octopuses sing a dirge remarkably similar to the 17th mournful aria sung by Isolde in that opera by Wagner.

At least half of the female octopuses give birth to baby octopuses (affectionately termed “little leggies”) within the following three days. This gestation period, is of course, identical to that of the male starfish.

I propose that we get together to discuss the ramifications of our research. Just let me know when and where and I will make myself entirely disposable. I understand that you have been studying the mating habits of the Fijian seaworm. What a fascinating project! You must tell me all about it. Incidentally, I’m 6’1,” with long red hair, green eyes, and well-developed mammary glands. Seriously, I’m kidding about the mammary glands.

Stella Marinaro
(soon to be Dr. Stella Marinaro)

  1. June 14, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Ahahahahahaha! Love your writing and I do believe I am enlightened on the ‘midnight soiree’s’ with Octopus and Starfish! Jx

  2. June 14, 2010 at 10:32 pm


  3. Eddie
    June 14, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Eddie here – when Marz & I scoot down to Randazzo’s in Sheepshead for some late night after getting down snack, I never order the calamari or polpi, stay away from all those legs and the smushy middle. But I do go for the scungilli – marinara by the way. Now I know why, until one a these profs come up with something disgusting about conch.

    • asharpclarinet
      June 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      Eddie — The conch has a succulent singing voice similar to the bass-oon’s. My thesis advisor, Dr. Gertrude Edwin Flounders, has written extensively on the subject and a group of us are embarking on an orchestral project involving starfish, octopuses, dolphins, catfish, conch, sea-basses and hunch-backed baby whales. As for the digestation of the octopus, I’m happy to hear that you’re rejecting such feast. The delightful creature is on the endangered species list and should never be served, with marinara sauce or otherwise. As for the conch, have a heart and refuse to order it. Try mudcarp with marinara sauce. Anything in marinara sauce is palatable to the eater with a numb tongue.

      Sincerely, Stella

  4. deepee10
    June 15, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Quite funny–laughed out loud and am still smiling.

  5. June 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Very funny. Great voice here, so serious and hoity-toity. Peace…

  6. June 16, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Pete here, I’m new to the community, well really I’m just peeking in to see if I fit in, and I must say that I am not at all familiar with any of this but I am heartened to see another academic sort here. My research is not in the field of undersea exploration but it’s similar in that I also study the animal kingdom. Cows, to be precise. Psychology of cows, actually. I’m not entirely sure I belong here, but as I say, I was greatly impressed with your research. Nice to meet you, Dr. Marinaro. Good stuff.

  7. June 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Dearest Pete — I’m profoundly grateful for your appreciation. I know nothing about ground cows, only seacows. Dr. P. M. Bovinianitz has done extensive research on mad cow disease. I trust that you’re familiar with her findings? — Call me Maria (after all, I’m from Brooklyn!)

  1. June 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm

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