Thanks to the zillions of friendly people who sent me links to the coconut octopus story, I can share accounts from slashdot, treehugger, new scientist, the AP, and of course, the BBC.

Much indignant kerfuffle has resulted on the cephalopod mailing list (yes, of course I am subscribed to one) and it boils down to three points:

1. It's not the first time this behavior has been observed, photographed, or filmed. (This video is from April 2008.)
2. Octopuses pick up, move, and carry all kinds of objects around all the time. It's why aquarists pay a lot of attention to environmental enrichment in octopus enclosures.
3. Does picking up and carrying a coconut shell really count as "tool use"?

That said, everyone also enjoyed the video and thought it was really cool. So is it worth being cranky about the fact the cute "sexy" animals get over-hyped in the media, and complaining that such hype overshadows "real" valuable discoveries from less intrinsically attractive systems? Or should we accept that such "real" discoveries aren't very likely to get media attention anyway, and simply delight in the fact that there are cute creatures in the world to serve as poster children for biology, drumming up interest and excitement?

The rhetorical affirmation employed above makes my own opinion fairly clear . . .