Shell dwelling octopuses

Nefer, and her colleagues at CICIMAR, had knowledge about the shell dwelling octopuses presence in the region for a long time and had worked with them from an environmental toxicology standpoint. When they told me about their shell dwelling existence, as a behavioral ecologist, I wondered just what they were up Nefer and I went out and had a look for ourselves...

We set out into the field on a very typical blue-skied beautiful La Paz day, wading into the warm (for an Englishman!) waters that were crystal clear and less than 1m deep (at a low tide).

We managed to survey a small area, looking specifically for shells that might contain octopuses. Within a reasonably short time, I found one - success! I must have got lucky...we had a look inside the candidate shell and there one was...a rather large looking Paroctopus digueti. This was very exciting, it was the first time I had encountered them and luckily for me, the photograph does not contain the sounds of me squealing like a little boy.

After the small survey area, the red square on the map provided, we waded around the area and summarised, with tides taken into account, the likely area where more would reside (within the green area). And this is just in Balandra...other sites close by are also known for their presence.

One last amazing discovery of the reconnaissance mission was the finding of a small but energetic fiddler crab population. These guys wave their claws around to attract females and are an important model in sexual selection (a part of evolutionary biology) studies. I love watching these guys do their thing (wait 13 seconds in the video) . A great end to a great day.

Originally posted on National Geographic Open Explorer to shelldwellingoctopuses.

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