Australian octopus predicts Gillard’s poll victory

Saturday, July 17, 2010

MELBOURNE - So what if Octopus Paul has retired after the FIFA World Cup — Australia’s own psychic devilfish has staked claim to being its successor predicting the victory of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the country’s general elections next month.

According to Cassandra, the very own octopus of Australian daily The Sydney Morning Herald, the prime minister’s rival candidate Tony Abbott will be inked out in the poll to be held August 21.

When Cassandra was consulted at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, she wrapped her long arms around Gillard’s picture. Her reaction to the opposition leader’s image was less enthusiastic — she turned a defensive black colour, the daily said.

Paul, the German oracle octopus, became popular after correctly predicting the results of all six of Germany’s matches in the FIFA WOrld Cup in South Africa May-June. It ended the tournament with a remarkable eight-on-eight record.

According to Greek legend, Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by the god Apollo. However, when Cassandra did not return Apollo’s love, he placed a curse on her so that no one would believe her predictions, such as the fall of Troy.

Apart from her dabble in divination, Cassandra will be used as part of a research project involving the Marine Science Institute, Macquarie University and Harvard University to investigate whether octopuses can learn by observation.

Rob Harcourt, director of marine science at Macquarie University, however, said as octopus had “episodic personalities”, the prime minister should be aware Cassandra could choose Abbott tomorrow.

“On any given day, an octopus may be bold in all situations and then shy and timid the next day,” Harcourt said.

Despite their temperamental personalities, he said, octopuses had excellent learning capabilities and memories. “They can take a prawn out of a Vegemite jar.”

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