Believe it or not, octopuses use to throw different materials at each other for various reasons, such as cleaning the nest or sending a communication message.
Octopuses are solitary aquatic creatures, especially when hunting for food – they sometimes eat various scraps and even have cannibalistic episodes. In addition to these reactions, they also appear to display other antisocial behavior: they propel jets of mud and throw seaweed or shells.
The scientists who studied Octopus tetricusthe most common octopus species in Sydney (Australia) filmed the cephalopods as they picked up various scraps with their front tentacles and tossed them a great distance from their body with the help of a powerful jet of water released with the help of their back arms, which functioned in this situation as a siphon.
Throwing objects, rarely seen in the animal kingdom
While the team of specialists who participated in the research point out that these reactions seem to be the octopuses’ way of tidying up the nest or getting rid of the shells they have been feeding on, another theory is being raised. The authors of the study found that these aquatic creatures use different objects and throw them at other octopuses deliberately. Peter Godfrey Smith, the study’s first coordinator at the University of Sydney, says such behavior is surprising, to say the least.
“Throwing – or propelling or projecting – objects gathered and held for safekeeping is rare in the animal kingdom. To throw a material, even short distances, is an unusual action underwater and quite difficult to perform,” said the professor, according to The Guardian.
In 2015, Godfrey Smith and his colleagues filmed more than 20 hours in the waters of Jervis Bay in New South Wales (Australia) and captured the behavior of ten octopuses. According to the presented conclusions, both males and females performed such “throws”. On the other hand, the cited report points out that females throw objects more often than males.
Females shed more often than males
And of the 102 throws reported in the more than 20 hours of footage, 32% had the reason for cleaning the nest, and 8% of these episodes occurred immediately after the octopus in question had fed.
Equally interesting is the fact that 53% of the recorded throws occurred within a maximum of 2 minutes after one octopus interacted with another – even if they were fighting, mating or coiling.
All data points to the fact that these strikes are coming deliberately.
“I am very convinced that most of the actions are motivated by an affirmation of the idea of personal space. In several identified cases, females threw objects at males that approached them to mate. But there were also cases where a female threw materials at other females”, says the professor.