Moody Octopuses caught throwing shells at each other for the first time

Moody much? Having recently been seen punching a fish for no reason, Octopuses outta Jervis Bay have now been caught on film flinging shells and silt at each other.

The gloomy octopus (Octopus tetricus Gould, 1852) is a medium-sized benthic octopus common in temperate waters around Australia and New Zealand. New research suggests that they have complex social dynamics and are extraordinarily intelligent.  

Octopuses are known to be pretty antisocial, to begin with, they hunt alone and on occasion are known to eat one another. So, not a lot of love to start with some could say.


While a lot is known about their behaviour, the use of their arms to mimic seaweed to capture prey, for example, targeted throwing is another thing entirely and has only been seen in only a few species including elephants, dolphins and chimps.

Over the course of 24 hours of video footage from 2015 and 2016, a research team observed 102 instances of octopus throws. On one occasion, the researchers even observed an octopus using its tentacle to fling a shell like a frisbee, resulting in a direct hit on another individual. Ouch.


It turns out, females appear to be way more inclined to throw stuff at others, with research showing an average of 11 throws from males compared to 90 from females. 

In many cases, these acts of aggression appear to be responses to harassment or irritating behaviour from other octopuses. For example, one female was observed throwing silt ten times at a male repeatedly trying to mate with her. 

The stats show over half of all throws (53%) occurred in interactive contexts (36% interactive only, 17% interactive-mixed, 32% occurred during den-cleaning alone, 8% after eating, and 8% without apparent context.

Check out the full stats here.