07 July 2010

“Psychic” octopus Paul picks Spain over Germany in World Cup semi-final

Camilla Bath
A common octopus (octopus vulgaris). Photo courtesy Joachim S. Müller

We here at the Two Oceans Aquarium love anything to do with underwater creatures – especially if it also relates to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™!

The quirky story of Paul the German octopus, who correctly predicted the winner of all five of his homeland’s World Cup matches so far, has captured the imagination of football fans around the world. He’s been hailed as an “octopus oracle”, but tonight his compatriots will be furiously hoping that he got his latest prediction dead wrong.

Yesterday Paul picked Spain to win against Germany in their semi-final encounter at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium. As always, he made his prediction simply by choosing between two tasty treats. Two mussels were placed in separate boxes, one bearing the German flag and the other, the Spanish. The boxes were then dropped into Paul’s tank and he was left to decide which treat to eat first. The octopus initially seemed undecided, but soon opened the box with the Spanish flag – thereby forecasting that la Furia Roja (“the Red Fury”) would emerge victorious.

The eight-legged prophet is no stranger to this game – in his life, he has correctly predicted the results of four out of every five Germany matches he’s been quizzed on. He also got an impressive 80% of his match predictions right in the 2008 European Championships.

Sadly, it’s doubtful that Paul will be around to predict Germany’s course in the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil, as octopuses are relatively short-lived (the common octopus has an average lifespan of around two or three years). 

Paul might live alone in his tank at Sea Life in Oberhausen, but so do most octopuses around the world. It’s difficult to keep more than one of these solitary creatures in a tank, as they are fiercely territorial. Some will fight to the death to protect the cave they live in from would-be invaders.

See also:

Paul the “psychic” octopus does it again!

Click here to read more about this fascinating species.

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