Tool use in Octopuses

Octopuses are well known for their incredible abilities, they can change their appearance instantaneously, hunt with other species and incredibly, use tools!

A species of octopus in Indonesia uses clam and coconut shells to hide from predators. Instead of simply hiding in them and then abandoning them when the coast is clear, they actually have the foresight to pick them and take them on their journeys. As this inhibits there normal rate of progress scientists have determined that they pass the test for the scientific definition of tool use.

We have discovered two species of octopuses in La Paz, Mexico, that are frequently seen hiding in clams, just like their Indonesian counterparts. These octopuses reside in the beautiful, pristine and protected beaches of Balandra.

Our mission is to investigate just what these secretly smart cephalopods are up to - are they using the clam shells as tools? If so, to what extent? We intend to use the full range of behavioral ecology and field techniques to answer defined scientific questions. We have a team of amazingly talented local undergraduates and postgraduates, some assistance from the local marine research institute and permissions from local authorities.

So far we in the process of gathering habitat ecology data via field surveys carried out by student volunteers. The ROV will be used to watch the wild behavior of these secretive yet amazing animals. This equipment is vital as disturbing via snorkeling causes them to hide away.

Originally posted on National Geographic Open Explorer to shelldwellingoctopuses.

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