Scientists have discovered a cluster of about fifteen gloomy octopuses or the Octopus tetricus living together off the coast of Jervis Bay, Australia. The team has dubbed their small city “Octlantis.”
The species, also called the Sydney octopus, are generally believed to be solitary creatures except for when they mate. However, this is not the first time scientists have seen them unexpectedly congregate. Another small city, dubbed “Octopolis” and not far away from this one, was discovered back in 2015.
Octopuses are considered to be quite smartest animals, at least on the short term, so this potential gregariousness is an interesting find.
“We still don’t really know much about octopus behavior,” said Stephanie Chancellor of Chicago’s University of Illinois. “More research will be needed to determine what these actions might mean.”
Octlantis, a Small Place, but a Though One
Naturally, these “cities” of the octopuses are quite small. This newly discovered one is about 18 by meters or 59 by 13 feet and is situated at a depth of 10 to 15 metres or 33 to 49 feet below the surface.
Neither Octopolis nor Octlantis seem to be ideal neighborhoods in which to live, however. The octopuses have been seen stealing each other’s dens, as well as chasing out-of-towners away. Nevertheless, the researchers also observed them living together and communicating with each other, despite their species’ usual solitariness.
Littering is also common, though the residents do not seem to mind. The discarded shells of their prey are seemingly often used to make new dens.
It is not clear how common these Octopus tetricus cities may be, nor why they develop. Chancellor theorizes that it may have to do with geography. Namely, the team noticed seafloor rock outcroppings around both of them, and in areas otherwise “flat and featureless”. The areas around Octopolis and Octlantis also seems to be rich in food sources. Nonetheless, it might also be a “hot spot” for possible predator attacks.
More details about this newest discovered octopus city are available in a paper released in the journal Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology.
Future studies on the matter will try to determine if places like Octlantis and Octopolis are common, but have yet to be discovered, as technology did not allow it till quite recently. They will also try to establish if the present assumption about the gloomy octopuses and their solitary nature are wrong, or not.
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