As regular readers will know, we like octopuses here at the Cosmos newsblog (see The Awesome Octopus) and so were excited to see this video, with more evidence of the intelligence of these remarkable creatures.
In footage taken over a 10-year period off the coasts of Northern Sulawesi and Bali, several octopuses were filmed carrying coconut shells with them as portable protection. The animals use the hard case as both shield and shelter against predators while in the open.
Thanks to The Age for drawing attention to it and quoting Museum Victoria’s senior curator of marine invertebrates Julian Finn, who took the video.
The ability to use tools has long been regarded as mark of intelligence. Dr Finn said that unlike a hermit crab, the octopus carried the shells for future use. While carrying them it had restricted movement and was more vulnerable to predators.
“It’s like an umbrella,” he said. “When you’re carrying an umbrella it’s completely pointless. But when it rains it is useful.”
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.