Lighter clothing = more interactive octopus?

Discussion in 'Behavior and Intelligence' started by Hayek, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Lately, I've noticed that Caligula (O. Briareus) is more likely to come out of his den if I am wearing white clothing and is more reserved when I wear dark clothing. Just a minute ago, I was trying to get him to come out for a guest. He peered out from behind the rock at me while I was wearing a black sweatshirt. Almost immediately after I took off the dark sweatshirt in favor of my white undershirt, he came out to investigate. I have recorded similar behavior on several occasions.

    When Caligula is showing dark colors like red and brown he tends to be scared or angry. White and light blue seem to signify calmness. I think he sees my dark clothes as an indication that I might be aggressive and the opposite for light colored clothes.

    Has anyone noticed this type of behavior? What do you think? Is it just a coincidence?
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Good observation! I have wondered about patterns on clothing but did not consider dark and light. KaySoh is at a good stage to experiment now so I will hunt the closet for two opposite shirts and try to come up with an experiment.
     
  3. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    Someone a few years back observed that a GPO in a public aquarium didn't like "red"-- maybe it was that the GPO (as is generally believed) perceived the red as "dark."
     
  4. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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    This could be interesting. We certainly have enough people keeping octos to be able to accumulate some interesting observations. Do all octos of one species seem to react that way, do octos of a different species also react that way, etc. Maybe a sticky could be created where people could post any observations. There might be nothing to it at all, but it would be cool to find out.
     
  5. MsElectricOcean

    MsElectricOcean Larval Mass Registered

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    I think that it makes perfect sense for your octopus to respond to the color of your clothing. He probably perceives you as another color-changing entity. When an octopus is angry it is noted to usually turn a reddish or darker color. Perhaps lighter colors make you seem non-threatening, so he feel more relaxed to come out?
     
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    I noticed that too, with a bimac I kept a few years ago. In the presence of a black sweater or my husband's dark striped bathrobe, she could be spooked easily, especially if we were just coming up to the tank.

    Nancy
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    As far as we can tell, octopuses can't see actual color. There is no physical evidence for color detection and no experimental success. They can detect shades though so it is more likely that contrast could suggest mood (like the stripes in Bill's bathrobe suggesting irritation/aggression like the skunk strip we often see in the octos). Dark or light clothing would also be detectable so it is even possible that different species might view a white shirt differently. Mercatoris' and Briareus' relaxed color is primarilly white where hummelincki is mottled and white is reserved for startled.
     

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