Written by: Hassan Abdul from Adventure Camps
This rare footage of an Indo-Pacific day octopus was captured by placing a GoPro on the sea floor of a protected area at Fanjove Private Island in the SongoSongo Archipelago in Southern Tanzania.
In the video the octopus is seen gathering a pile of debris before directing the jet of its siphon into the web under its arms to propel the debris towards the camera.
At first, this might seem like territorial behavior but octopuses are known to be constantly switching homes after a week or two, usually making dens out of old items lying around on the sea floor. They are also not usually aggressive and will only attack when provoked.
It appears that this particular octopus, a female protecting her eggs, feels threatened. However, contrary to common behaviour, it does not flee. This is the norm, the octopus will turn away, using ink as a cover to confuse the predator. Instead it puts up a little fight by taking on four consecutive actions to disturb the intruder (in this case the camera).
Rather than actually harming the GoPro, which would have caused it to fall sideways, it seems to be warning it off its territory.
The attack strategy is quite similar on all four occasions: The octopus looks outside its den to see if the intruder is there. When it sees it, it comes out fully and communicates its aggressive intentions by making itself darker and taller in an attempt to avoid a fight. It approaches and uses its tentacles to spit and hurl debris at the camera and quickly retreats afterwards. I never actually touches the camera once.
Very few animals have been reported to throw things at one another. Some primates can throw objects such as rocks, sticks, and feces as projectiles. Primates that are known to throw are humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, capuchins, certain gibbons and perhaps some baboons and Japanese macaques… but an octopus, that’s a whole other story.