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Octopus behaviour 17 Dec 2009

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
Tags: , , ,

Encountered and interesting article in the papers yesterday about an octopus species in Indonesia that uses coconut shells as protection (Octopus builds its own shelter, Straits Times, 16 Dec 2009), and saw other articles on it in the WildSingapore blog.

I was amazed that such behaviour was considered “new”, as this had been observed for a long time down at Lembeh (North Sulawesi). The local dive guides call the octopus the “coconut octopus”, for its rather quaint habit of hiding under coconut shells. I guess, from the reports, that the octopus is actually used to using clam shells, but have turned to the more common and abundant coconut shells that litter many of the dives sites in Lembeh.

I was in Lembeh just last week, and observed and photographed some of the behaviour described in the articles, although I am not sure if it is the same species of octopus.

The octopus almost “stilt-walking”, without the coconut shells in tow, of course.

The octopus trying to use a bottle to hide under – or maybe to bash the photographer harassing it!

I wonder, though, if this is *really* the first indication of invertebrates using tools? What about the humble hermit crab, that uses discarded marine snail shells as protection?

The mighty hermit crab who carries his house where it goes (I bet there is a sink in there too!). This one evens gives anemones a ride!

Or, for that matter, what about the spider crabs (below)?

The original sponge bob!

The “Halimeda algae” crab, also from Lembeh.

The “sea fern hydroid” crab from Rajah Ampat.

Maybe these crabs can also be classified as “new” observations to support the use of tools by invertebrates? I wonder what else we see commonly and take for granted that is new to science, and shed some light onto the way these creatures survive.

There is still so much we do not know!!



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