Female Octopuses Are Throwing Things At Males That Harass Them

Female Octopuses Are Throwing Things At Males That Harass Them

The behavior of octopuses that are living off the coast of Australia was studied recently. The studies show that female octopuses often throw shells and silt at other octopuses. In most cases, females are throwing things at males that are harassing them.

At the University of Sydney in 2015, Peter Godfrey-Smith studied some common Sydney octopuses that were interacting at a site dubbed “Octopolis”. On this site, you can find a large number 0f animals in a small area. Extraordinary behavioral patterns including fighting, mating, and a “throwing” movement were observed. Under their bodies, the octopuses hold silt, algae, or objects like shells using tentacles. Then they angle their siphons, shooting a jet of water towards the projectiles. These get propelled up to several body lengths.

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This behavior of throwing objects is usually used to discard what’s remaining after meals or when excavating dens. However, the video footage reveals many instances where octopuses are throwing objects at other animals. When Godfrey-Smith initially discussed this behavior back in 2015, he wasn’t sure if it was intentional or not. However, the new footage clearly shows that they are indeed targeting other animals.

The common Sydney octopus (Octopus tetricus)
Nature Picture Library / Alamy

In 2016, Godfrey-Smith has witnessed a female octopus throwing silt at a male who was trying to mate with her. She hit him 10 times on five occasions. This sequence was one of the many incidents that convinced him that this throwing behavior is intentional. The study also suggests that female octopuses mostly throw silt vigorously when targeting others.

What do you think about this defensive behavior of female octopuses? Check out the article and share your thoughts in the comment section!

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