Eye trick or simply shields?

Discussion in 'Diving & Ceph Encounters' started by Kohlis, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. Kohlis

    Kohlis Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi!
    My name is Erik, I found this community while googling for squid pics as inspiration for a novel I'm writing. I read some of the threads and felt right at home, so I decided to join. My girlfriend, bless her heart, keeps yawning and cursing at my enthusiastic ranting about molluscs, so I figured here I could be myself and leave her alone:smile:
    Now, for my question. A year ago I went to Australia, and snorkelling at a fairly remote beach in sothern NSW I saw something strange. A large octupus, roughly one meter in lenght, was hiding out in a crack in the rocky sea floor. Two of its tentacles were visible, and as I came closer it grabbed two abalone shells lying right outside the burrow. The Oc held them up next to each other and seemed to point them at me.
    This looked very much like a pair of huge, gleaming eyes staring right at me, quite creepy actually. Figuring this out must require quite a brain, which is really impressive. Could an octopus really be that clever, or was it merely using the two flat, hard objects as shields?? Have anybody seen or heard of such behaviour before?
    Thanks a lot and cheers! Erik
     
  2. Mizu

    Mizu Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    he was probably afraid you were going to steal his dinner
     
  3. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    :welcome: Erik

    Haven't heard of that particular behaviour, but individual octis can be quite inventive. Even using them as shields is pretty impressive!!! But we have had some that appear to be able to link cause and effect....so maybe that one had scared a predator off that way by "accident" and then carried on with a behaviour that worked???????

    J
     
  4. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: Certainly, there has been some pretty sophisticated behavior observed in octopuses, but I've never heard of this before. If it's common enough that it could be seen consistently, it sounds like it would be another great example for Mucktopus' research! She talks about observing walking behaviors and such in the latest "octopodcast"... I didn't even know abalones lived near Australia, although I guess I don't have any reason to think they wouldn't....
     
  5. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: Erik!

    When a female octopus lays her eggs, she tends to hide away in some little hollow or crevasse and shield the way in/out with small rocks and shells. It is part of the normal survival repertoire to handle these, but you're right in assuming a reasonable level of intelligence/self awareness with these fascinating animals... Opinions differ, but laboratory experiments have shown the octopus' learning capabilities to be on a par with some higher vertebrates.

    They're also the one animal I know of besides primates to be able to open a screwtop container.

    Tits (the birds OK?! :grin: ) can open foil capped milk bottles with their beaks, but that's as far as it goes...

    Read up on wonderpus and the mimic octopus from the Lembeh Strait, you'll be impressed!

    Olaf
     
  6. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Oooooh, I'm glad you clarified that. I certinly had an interesting mental image! :oops:

    And a hearty welcome from me too, Erik.
     
  7. Kohlis

    Kohlis Larval Mass Registered

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    Tit birds, eh? Like: "Never mind the crackers, polly want a bra"...
    Thank you for the quick replies!
    It's kind of difficult to try and tell wether an animal does something out of intelligence or instinct, but I like the idea of other creatures with wits.
    Do they eat abalones, or did it just find the shells lying around? They're probably good fodder, but how to get through the shell?
    /Erik
     
  8. chrono_war01

    chrono_war01 Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Well, a octo can either drill a hole through the shell with their radula (a.k.a tougne), or they can be patient, try pulling on the abalone til it gets tired, enableing the octo to eat it from the shell less underside.
     
  9. aximbigfan

    aximbigfan GPO Registered

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    i would guess that the octo prolly was making a sort of sheild.


    chris
     
  10. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    Yup. A variation on the second that also might work (it does for abalone-grabbing SCUBA divers, I'm told) is that if you catch the abalone by surprise, it's not holding on that tightly; so if the octo gives it a really big yank when it doesn't expect it, it'll pop off before it has a chance to get a grip... This seems like the kind of thing an octopus would like to do, too, since they seem to be good at the "ambush predator" approach....
     

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