The Octo-Punch: The Truth Behind Why Octopuses Punch Fish

While observing a Day Octopus exhibiting hunting behavior, Eduardo Sampaio, an octopus scientist, witnessed the octopus deliver an octo-punch as it scoured for food.

It’s the middle of the day in the Red Sea. The Day Octopus (Octopus cyanea) has left its den – a rock crevice – to begin scavenging for food on the seafloor.

Like most octopuses, this Day Octopus lives a solitary life, only meeting up with other octopuses to breed.

The Day Octopus’s Hunting Behavior

Using special headshakes, the grouper can ‘tell’ the octopus where lost prey is hiding, out of the grouper’s reach.

How The Lyretail Grouper Helps The Octopus Hunt

The octopus, being much better suited to retrieving prey out of crevices, is given an easy opportunity for food.

Does The Tailspot Squirrelfish Help The Day Octopus Hunt As Well?

The squirrelfish does not help the octopus find food. Instead, the squirrelfish follows along with the hope of winning a free snack.

There’s not much the Day Octopus can do about the thieving follower. It can’t outswim the squirrelfish, and the octopus needs to eat.

The Real Truth Behind The Octo-Punch

Whether the octopus lands a punch to protect against food theft or to reprimand a successful thief, octo-punches are how the Day Octopus protects its prey.

So, yes- an octopus punch may seem aggressive. But, these octopus scientists suggest the sucker-punches are actually how the Day Octopus defends itself from its quick competitors.

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