Octopuses have fascinated scientists for decades with their high intelligence, strange abilities, and their knack for getting everybody to confuse their plural. After observing a group of the cephalopods living in bay, a team of researchers found out that octopuses have far more drama in their lives than believed.
- Octopuses tend to start eating their own tentacles when they are bored
- All octopuses have some form of bacteria derived venom, but most can’t harm people
- They are some of the most intelligent animals out there, observed to even use tools
- A certain octopus, while in captivity, was even able to open a childproof pill bottle
- An octopus can change the color of its skin to match the environment in just 0.3 seconds
This particular group of cephalopods was observed somewhere in Jervis Bay, Australia by a local diver who ended up being the study’s co-author.
As he was doing his thing one day, just diving around the area, Matthew Lawrence observed a group of Sydney octopuses forming a social gathering; due to the solitary nature of the creatures, he posted the findings on a website frequented by octopus enthusiasts.
This managed to get the attention of an international team of experts in the field, including faculty members from the University of Sydney, the City University of New York, as well as from the Alaska Pacific University; they proceeded to set up cameras immediately, and were then left to binge on 52 hours of octopus videos.
Not only were the animals found to be cohabitating in the bay in order to avoid predators and have an easier time getting food in the way of scallops, but they were also living there because of the easier access to improvised dens.
Oh, and they totally had conflicts and fought among themselves.
The 12 octopuses living in a 3 square meter area in the bay had their food and security needs covered, so they were able to engage in social interactions. They were seen interacting 186 times in the 52 hours of footage.
This led the team to believe that the creatures used their instantly changing skin color to transmit their mood to others, as well as to signal how they were going to react.
Dark skinned octopuses were in an aggressive mood, and were more likely avoided by other creatures with lighter skin tones. At the same time, they were more likely to be confronted by other similarly colored octopuses.
After watching the 52 hours of footage, the researchers are still unsure of the reasons behind the confrontations, but they assume they might have something to do with either mating opportunities or territorial issues.
Image source: Wikimedia