Help save the endangered coniferous cephalopods! They’re endangered! I read it on the innernetz, so I know it’s true!
Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man has a great piece about internet or information literacy, and its sad state these days. Students in a University of Connecticut study funded by the US Department of Education were tasked to learn more about the Pacific Northwest tree octopus, and they found a website about it, so they insisted that it was a real creature.
Although the tree octopus is not officially listed on the Endangered Species List, we feel that it should be added since its numbers are at a critically low level for its breeding needs.The reasons for this dire situation include: decimation of habitat by logging and suburban encroachment; building of roads that cut off access to the water which it needs for spawning; predation by foreign species such as house cats; and booming populations of its natural predators, including the bald eagle and sasquatch. What few that make it to the Canal are further hampered in their reproduction by the growing problem of pollution from farming and residential run-off. Unless immediate action is taken to protect this species and its habitat, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus will be but a memory.The possibility of Pacific Northwest tree octopus extinction is not an unwarranted fear. Other tree octopus species — including the Douglas octopus and the red-ringed madrona sucker — were once abundant throughout the Cascadia region, but have since gone extinct because of threats similar to those faced by paxarbolis, as well as overharvesting by the now-illegal tree octopus trade.
All 25 of the students in the study fell for the hoax, and some insisted that the site was credible, even after being told by researchers that it was false.
“These results are cause for serious concern,” says the project’s lead researcher, Don Leu, who holds the John and Maria Neag Chair in Literacy and Technology at UConn, “because anyone can publish anything on the Internet and today’s students are not prepared to critically evaluate the information they find there.”