Is the “Gloomy Octopus” a Social Creature?

Marine biologists had always thought that gloomy octopuses were loners, living solitary lives in the subtropical waters near Australia and New Zealand and being sociable only during mating season. But new research about this cephalopod species -- more formally known as Octopus tetricus, or the common Sydney octopus -- turned up a group of 15 gloomy octopuses living together off the coast of eastern Australia at a site dubbed “Octlantis,” where they exhibited complex social behaviors. Perhaps reminiscent of life in any big city, the researchers documented a lot of aggression among the residents, with males spending much of their time fighting about who was going to live in which den.

Brothers in arms:

  • The "Octlantis" find was only the second example of these octopuses living in groups. Researchers found a similar gloomy octopus city in 2009 built around a large discarded piece of now-heavily encrusted metal; they called it "Octopolis."
  • The study by an international team of marine biologists appeared in the journal Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology.
  • Like other cephalopods, the gloomy octopus is thought to be fairly intelligent. A 2010 study found that the creatures appear to have different personalities, much like humans.
More Info: Smithsonian magazine

Discussion Comments


Love the intelligence part, sad about the aggression part.

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