I had heard before how intelligent octopuses are, that they’re great at solving problems and generally trouble to keep around. That said, it wasn’t until I saw Finding Dory that it really sank in.
Now, scientists are telling us that not only are they smart, they’re kind of the bullies of the sea, too.
This new study, published in Ecology, found that octopuses and different species of fish can make agreements to hunt for food together, so that they cover a wider search area. T
he octopuses in their study, which lived in the Red Sea, would establish control of their cohort by striking (or punching) them to move them into a preferred position, to stop them from eating the prey, or to stop them doing what they were doing.
Researchers describe it as a “swift, explosive motion with one arm,” so even though they don’t technically have fists, it sounds like a punch to me.
They witnessed fish like a tailspot squirrelfish, blacktip fish, lyretail fish, groupers, yellow-saddle fish, Red Sea goatfish, and half-spotted hind fish all take one to the jaw during the observation period, and while most of the smacks served a purpose, a few seemed random.
Those are the abusers, I guess. They probably blamed the little fish for getting itself smacked.
Most of the punches were used to keep the littler fish in line, or in a punitive way, should they take a bite of food without sharing.
These fish, I suppose, are only learning what I have deduced without having to be punched by a tentacle – that really, it’s best not to upset an octopus.
You know. If you can avoid it.