In honor of International Octopus Day, sneak a peek at these quick-change artists as they hunt, hatch, and feed. Octopuses are masters at flying under the radar, changing their coloration and texture to match their surroundings in seconds.But today, this intelligent invertebrate is in the spotlighta€”it's International Octopus Day. In addition to being able to take on amazing disguises, octopuses are also accomplished swimmers. An octopus off Rockport, Massachusetts, feels its way in the deep dark sea using its eight arms.
An octopus glides through green water in Fiordland National Park on the southwestern coast of New Zealand. A young octopus off of Pramuka Island (map) near Jakarta, Indonesia, hatches from among a collection of eggs. An Octopus cyanea in the Tukangbesi Islands, Indonesia, hunts for food among the crevices of a reef.
Octopus arms are a marvel of engineering, and suction cups (pictured on an octopus at Australia's Merimbula Aquarium) are a big reason why.Not only can the animals use their suckers to "taste" their environment, they're strong enough to hold more than a hundred times their own weight. A giant Pacific octopus clings to the side of its tank in Baltimore, Maryland.It's the largest octopus speciesa€”the record-holder measured 30 feet (9 meters) across and weighed over 600 pounds (272 kilograms). Day-old Octopus vulgaris, known as common octopuses, mill about in a tank at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography in Galicia.The institute's goal is to be the first to breed octopuses in captivity. A Pacific giant octopus scavenges the carcass of a spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Celebrating the biodiversity of Planet Earth with leading articles from our global team of wildlife authors and photographers.
Elusive creatures known mainly for their eight arms, ink blast, and high intelligence, octopuses are also fearsome predators with a variety of natural weapons at their disposal.
Porsche Indrisie learned that firsthand recently when, much to her surprise, a small octopus burst out of a tide pool to capture an unsuspecting crab on Smiths Beach in Yallingup, Western Australia (map). We emailed Roger Hanlon, a senior scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to find out more about octopus hunting strategies.
As long as their gills are wet, they can stay out of water for a minute or two without damage.
Recent CommentsLeigh Lofgren on Japan Kills 200 Pregnant Minke WhalesHorrific and do we stop this? New research by Peter Godfrey-Smith, with David Scheel, a biologist at Alaska Pacific University, and Matthew Lawrence, an Australian diver, on octopus communication by bodily signals was recently featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, New Scientist, and NPR. But new evidence shows that an octopus may signal its intentions when it is about to whomp another octopus. Their method was to put cameras on the sea floor in areas where there were plenty of these octopuses and then comb through hours and hours of video. He showed video of one octopus moving swiftly toward another as it made itself look taller and turned very dark. He said that he and his colleagues had documented a number of signals of aggression — standing tall by rising up on the tentacles, turning dark, climbing onto higher (underwater) ground, spreading its tentacles and raising its mantle, which is the main part of an octopus body.
But sometimes, two octopuses just grow dark, slap tentacles and then settle down where they are. The gloomy octopus of Australia sends cues to its rivals about whether it will flee or fight—a novel discovery.
Until recently, scientists thought the ocean dwellers didn’t communicate with one another much at all.
But new video evidence suggests at least one kind of octopus—the common Sydney octopus (Octopus tetricus)—sends cues to its rivals about whether it will flee or flight. David Scheel, a marine biologist at Alaska Pacific University, and colleagues shot the footage off southeastern Australia—the first evidence that fighting octopuses broadcast their intentions to one another. The common Sydney octopus, also known as the gloomy octopus, were thought to be very independent: When they do come together to mate, the female often eats the male afterward. So the researchers were surprised that Sydney octopuses at their research site seemed to be interacting regularly. Instead, it makes sense that the octopuses would need to communicate to either escalate or avoid conflict—which is exactly what the team found. Scheel and his colleagues observed a range of aggressive interactions between octopuses—everything from simply reaching out toward another octopus, to chases, to grappling.

To get their point across, octopuses used a suite of dramatic behaviors such as spreading their arms wide, standing tall, raising their mantles—a structure that holds all their organs—like a crest above their eyes, and climbing on top of objects, the team observed. The animals also changed color depending on their behavior: Aggressive octopuses tended to become darker, while fleeing octopuses were much paler. This octopus body language likely occurs in more species, says Christine Huffard, a senior research technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute who was not involved in the new research. Huffard agrees with Scheel and his colleagues that it’s likely the octopuses are signaling to avoid costly battles.
Octopuses have been recorded gathering up armfuls of debris – and remember, they have eight arms – before taking pot shots at one another. Octopuses have siphons on the side of their body, which they normally use for jet propulsion – they expel water forcefully through them, shooting forward as a result. Gloomy octopuses (Octopus tetricus) living on a bed of shells at Jervis Bay, Australia, seem to have co-opted this system to throw things at each other in what may be the first use of projectile weapons seen in octopuses. The technique the gloomy octopus uses seems to be a throw helped with a spit (see video above). However, other octopuses were hit with the debris more often than you would expect by chance.
If indeed it is intentional, it may have evolved as a response to unusually crowded conditions at Jervis Bay. Even without the throwing behaviour, the crowding has brought out the worst in the inhabitants, it seems. Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY and University of Sydney), David Scheel (Alaska Pacific University), Stefan Linquist (University of Guelph) and Matthew Lawrence. Credit: Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY and University of Sydney), David Scheel (Alaska Pacific University), Stefan Linquist (University of Guelph) and Matthew Lawrence.
Those ornery octopuses have also taken to hurling objects at each other, like shells and bits of seaweed, blasting them through the water with high pressure. He says they’ve got a lot more observing to do before coming to firm conclusions about the shell-chuckers.
The photo (a video frame) shows one of the most vigorous fights between two octopuses I’ve seen.
The aim of this trip was to gather a bigger and more systematic body of video data about the site. The all-seeing video coverage reminded me of Jeremy Bentham, the 18th century political philosopher, and his design for a high-surveillance building to be used in prisons, (and, among other places, POOR-HOUSES, HOSPITALS, MAD-HOUSES, AND SCHOOLS) called the panopticon. The frame above shows him again on the right, and the video below shows him getting into two fights in the space of about 30 seconds (the second including the sequence from which the frame above was taken). The fights are certainly dramatic, but some of the most interesting behaviors we see are non-aggressive – or at least much more restrained – ones.
They can travel via jet propulsion, taking water into their mantle cavitya€”the region containing their heada€”and squirt it out of a tube called a siphon. Some octopus species lay their eggs on rocks or other areas of the seafloor, but others will hang on to their eggs, or brood them.A deep-sea species called Graneledone boreopacifica is the ultimate mother. I was filming with no purpose, but what I captured ended up being perfectly timed,” Indrisie told National Geographic. There are roughly [more than a hundred] species very similar in size, body, form, et cetera.
Some species of octopus make this their primary habitat, so they are adapted to staying in tide pools and making very short forays [that is, seconds] out of the water.
They use slow approaches combined with their camouflage abilities to get within striking distance. Below are those three articles and the NPR podcast link, as well as a first-person account of the research process, from Godfrey-Smith’s blog, Metazoan.
Scheel presented some of their initial findings in Anchorage at the annual meeting last month of the Animal Behavior Society, and they have about two dozen examples of octopuses signaling their aggressive intent. Octopuses have a remarkable ability to change their coloration to blend in with their surroundings, like chameleons.
Scheel said there were hints in previous octopus studies of postures and behaviors like the ones he and his colleagues recorded.
The target octopus could read the signals and decide that keeping his spot on a pile of shells is just not worth it.

Rather than sending signals with their skin color and texture, octopuses—mostly solitary, except during mating—were thought to camouflage themselves with it. Whether it’s a case of “get off my turf” or merely “oops, didn’t mean to hit you” is still a puzzle. They also jet at intruders like pesky fishes,” says Jennifer Mather, a behavioural ecologist from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, who was not involved in the study.
But with each octopus only having an area around a meter square to themselves, their neighbours can be as close as 30 centimetres away. But they probably put up with it because of overabundance of scallops – their favourite food – and a lack of other suitable nesting sites. A large female-male pair was caught on camera, for example, fighting intermittently for almost 2.5 minutes. He is studying octopuses in Australia’s Jervis Bay — specifically, the common Sydney octopus, also known as the gloomy octopus. And while Godfrey-Smith says there may be other explanations for this behavior, the number of direct hits has him suspecting that the octopuses are using projectile weapons. It was taken at Octopolis, a site at Jervis Bay, Australia,  discovered by Matt Lawrence in 2009. In the past we’ve often left GoPro cameras down there to film what the octopuses do when we’re not there. Bentham’s design has the watcher in the middle, not on the periphery, and unlike many of Bentham’s intended panopticon residents, our surveilled octopuses are free to come and go from the site.
These incidents are different from the one pictured at the top of the post. In the frame above he looks large in comparison to the other, but this is not an unusually large octopus for the site, and some of his adversaries looked about the same size. There is a lot of low-level jostling and jousting, and when one octopus passes another there is often an exchange of arm-pokes. It’s another behavior we’ll have to analyze in detail when we go through the video and write it all up. From top left clockwise: Steven Taylor and Stefan on deck, then David, Stefan, and me, then Matt carrying down gear, then Matt and David preparing cameras. A female found in a deep canyon off the central California coast guarded her eggs for four and a half years. Scheel said that although they were still analyzing the video, the signals seem to say: “I’m this big. This time we had the cameras going constantly, during daylight hours, with some of them raised high on tripods. They tend to stay, though; one of the things that made last month’s trip a success was the large number of octopuses in residence (usually around 7) and almost ceaseless interaction among them, especially due to an unusually active and aggressive male, the right-hand individual in the first photo, who fought, mated, patrolled, and corralled his companions so vigorously that we wondered how he kept it all up.
The second victim in the video below is one of the most beaten-up I’ve seen there, with several arms damaged either by other octopuses or one of the many predators our octopuses have to deal with.
I have thought of these as “boxing,” but Stefan found himself calling them “high-fives” – the different terms have such different connotations for their role in octopus life. David Scheel then joined us on the project, and we published a second paper about it last year. We haven’t gone through much of the video yet, but he seemed to rarely stop to rest or eat.
Together with Stefan Linquist, we all spent several days watching the site, with the aid of the dive boat Ocean Trek, at the end of last month. This video (which does look like boxing) was included in the online supplement to our first paper about the site.
Unfortunately,not all japanise knows about the killing of Dolphins and Whales,we have to spread the word..Although,nobodyMichele Jankelow on Japan Kills 200 Pregnant Minke WhalesA shame and disgrace on the Japanese nation for their lack of respect, standards, conservation and honour!
I wonder sometimes why anyone ever thought of doing such aWende Anne Maunder on POLL: Should orcas and dolphins be kept in captivity?No creature on this planet should be kept in captivity for moronic humans to gawp at.

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