why-animals-do-the-thing: nothing-stays-the-s…

why-animals-do-the-thing:

nothing-stays-the-same:

why-animals-do-the-thing:

alternatez:

thelaceserpent:

southernbitchface:

m–ood:

A very curious octopus.

Watch this and be blessed

Awww bae

Oh god is it my turn to be the killjoy? I don’t want to. But also I’ve seen this video get increasingly popular so I’m going to break it down and also send it to @why-animals-do-the-thing to spread the word:

Octopodes (or octopuses, or octopi, all good) aren’t social/physically cuddly animals. While they are very curious and very intelligent, this octopus isn’t showing signs of willingly engaging with this diver.

To start with, it’s probably not trying to swim towards the diver to begin with: octopodes (like all cephalopods) swim backwards, and its initial jet towards the diver is likely unintentional. After this, the octopus repeatedly tries to adjust course to get around this unexpected impediment, and the diver repeatedly puts their hand in its way and prevents its escape. When the octopus successfully manages to turn towards the camera to escape, the diver catches it by the arm to stop it, then grabs its entire body and pulls it back towards them. This is the point when the octopus settles on the diver’s other arm and wraps its arms around the diver’s hand, an action we have no reason to believe it would have done without the diver’s interference.

Then, the diver begins to… I’m assuming try to pet the octupus? But in practice what they’re doing is kind of squinching its mantle. I suspect it’s not hurting the octopus, both because the hand motions look reasonably gentle and the octupus doesn’t do anything drastic like ink. However, when the diver’s hand first moves towards the octopus to do this, the octopus tries to crawl away along the diver’s arm and then eventually just… flattens out, at which point the video ends.

Good points: the diver isn’t being overly rough with the octopus, so I doubt it was hurt by this interaction. Also, this octopus is small enough that the diver wouldn’t be hurt by the octopus (it’s not going to be pulling out air hoses or biting through the wetsuit).

Bad points: literally everything else. This diver is forcing this octopus into an interaction that isn’t natural for the octopus and which is likely causing some stress to the octopus by the end of the video. The octopus repeatedly tries to avoid or escape the diver, including trying to avoid being petted. If you ever go diving, please don’t do this.

@alternatez is totally right – I’m glad they tagged me in this. This is one of those pieces of internet media that we so desperately want to be an example of connection between totally different species (who doesn’t dream of an octopus taking interest in them?) that we end up projecting terrestrial behavior and mannerisms onto a cephalopod. As the last comment pointed out, the octopus is not “headbonking” the diver; it is trying to swim away. The octopus is not “relaxing” when being petted; it is hunkering down away from unwanted tactile stimuli.  

The part of this video that really bothers me is the diver just reaching out and grabbing an animal that is trying to escape and physically restraining it. That octopus has no concept that the human is expressing affiliative behavior. When things in the wild grab an octopus, it is to eat them (or, if another octopus, get it on). That is incredibly stressful for the animal and a totally inappropriate way to interact with wildlife. 

It’s likely that the reason the octopus settled on the diver’s arm is due to one or both of two things: escape wasn’t working, and 2/3 of an octopus’ neurons are actually in the tentacles. What the latter means is that it’s theorized that while an octopus’ brain gives high-level commands, much of processing / action / reaction sequences occurs independently in their arms. Octopus also have a reflex to suction onto things they come into contact with (they’ve literally got specialized chemical signalling in their skin so they don’t stick to themselves). What this likely means is that when the octopus stopped trying to escape – because if you can’t get away from a predator, staying still and hoping it forgets about you is a pretty decent next choice – it’s legs automatically gripped onto the diver’s arm. That doesn’t mean it wants to be there, or that it wants to hang out with the diver; it’s probably a combination of reflex and survival instincts, nothing more. 

Here’s an example of how an octopus that is actually curious / looking to engage with a diver will approach: tentacles first, and with measured, almost languorous motions. Even though the two octopi in the videos are different species, you can see how the one that is trying to escape from the diver is moving in a much sharper, jerkier manner. 

Here’s another example of an octopus choosing to interact with a diver. In this case, it approaches carefully but intentionally and then contact’s the diver’s hand in a much sharper motion. While I am not enough of an expert on octopus behavior to be sure of what is occurring in this second video, this looks less like curiosity and more potentially some type of antagonistic behavior, given how intense the octopus’ movements regarding the diver’s hand is and how it tries to leave with the hand rather than stay and investigate it.

As always with topics like this on the blog, I have to remind you of our old mantra: don’t fuck with wildlife. You don’t know if you’ll end up contributing to something that will hurt it in the long run, and it can also probably hurt you more than you think. But especially, if you’re going to interact with a wild animal at all, make sure it approaches you voluntarily and do not attempt to grab or restrain it in any way. Don’t be like the diver in the top video.

@why-animals-do-the-thing idk if you just forgot or it got removed, but there’s no link to the example videos!!

Thanks for poking me! I’ve gotten a bunch of tags in this recently, so it’s a perfect time to boost it and fix those videos. 

Here’s  the first video I referenced:

“Here’s an example of how an octopus that is actually curious / looking to engage with a diver will approach: tentacles first, and with measured, almost languorous motions. Even though the two octopi in the videos are different species, you can see how the one that is trying to escape from the diver is moving in a much sharper, jerkier manner.

And the second:

“Here’s another example of an octopus choosing to interact with a diver. In this case, it approaches carefully but intentionally and then contact’s the diver’s hand in a much sharper motion. While I am not enough of an expert on octopus behavior to be sure of what is occurring in this second video, this looks less like curiosity and more potentially some type of antagonistic behavior, given how intense the octopus’ movements regarding the diver’s hand is and how it tries to leave with the hand rather than stay and investigate it.”