Marine biologists filmed octopuses throwing punches at fish in the Red Sea (see video) - a phenomenon which has been captured elsewhere. Why the undersea violence? Researchers - including individuals at EMBRC's partner in Israel: Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat - say it could be out of spite and a way for the octopuses to keep the fish in line.

Octopuses are known as solitary predators. But sometimes, an octopus participates in an undersea hunting party, traveling with fish of several species that are also looking for a meal, as explained in this complementary NY Times article, featuring insights from PhD student Eduardo Sampio. (Mr. Sampio is studying this activity as part of his doctoral research at the University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany.) 

In these collaborative hunts, the fish may get a little too close to the predator for the octopus's comfort: and that's when the octopus strikes! But not always. Mr. Sampaio recorded about eight examples during three months of dives in the Red Sea.

For more information, see the article in Ecology by Mr. Sampaio and his co-authors, highlighting their observations of several octopus 'bullies'.

This information was featured in EMBRC's #SeaAndMe campaign (on 28/12/2020). To see all related posts on Twitter, click here.

Find out more

See all news