• Missey Dee

The Coconut Octopus- Amphioctopus Marginatus

Octopuses have some of the most remarkable brains in nature and are well known for being highly intelligent and curious. Those kept in captivity display exceptional behaviour, they have been known to navigate through mazes, they seem to remember past events and some are cunning contortionists, slithering out of their enclosures to freedom.

Scientists in Indonesia have been blown away by the bizarre behaviour of the coconut octopus. They noticed the animals were frequently tip-toeing with coconut shell halves bigger than their bodies, tucked into the undersides of their tentacles. Researchers reported that when threatened by predators or when they were resting in exposed areas, the octopus would dig up two halves of a coconut shell and disappear inside, using it for either protection or deception. They also use the coconuts as a booby trap for its prey. Their diet of choice includes crustaceans like crabs, clams and shrimps. As the prey approaches, the octopus will pounce out of its shell and capture the startled meal. After using the shells, the octopus arranges the shells neatly, with its arms outstretched over the side of the coconut and walks around awkwardly as if on stilts.

Although it is common for octopus to use foreign objects as makeshift shelters, it is surprising to see them to hang on to their shelter for later use. It appears that once they select the ones they like; they will carry them around with them until they are needed again. This save- it –for- later approach shows a level of intelligence that is not usually displayed by animals other than humans.

Since this discovery, scientists have been stunned by the behaviour of the coconut octopus. Although researches have witnessed many octopus hiding in shells, they do not usually grab it up and jog across the seafloor with it! This complex behaviour of collecting shells, preparing them by blowing jets of mud out of the bowl and keeping them for later use is incredible to witness, and the deliberate use of ‘tools’ as a form of protection or hunting is proof of the coconut octopus’ advanced intelligence. Tool use was once thought to be a behaviour unique to humans, it is a sign of considerable mental sophistication. This is another example of how the natural world and we humans are indeed very similar, and we are in fact a continuum of the entire planet, and therefore we need to take care of it.

Written by Angela Warrior @Pure Sea Animal Bites

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