In some cases, there was a clear reason for the assault. An octopus knocked over a fish so it could catch prey. At other times, it was not immediately clear what a fish had done to deserve a helping hand.
Maybe throwing a fish on the outskirts of the hunting party teaches him a lesson, like not stealing the octopus. Another possibility is that punching is a learned response.
“The simplest explanation here is that octopuses might have negatively associated the loss of prey with a fish following them,” said Alexandra Schnell, a comparative psychologist at the University of Cambridge who studies intelligence. cephalopods and did not participate in the research. .
She also said she was not convinced octopus and reef fish worked together during these multi-species hunts.
“There is no doubt that these are wonderful images,” said Dr Schnell, but what is visible to the human eye in the Red Sea videos “is only one piece of the puzzle. “
Mr. Sampaio is currently doing a more in-depth analysis of these videos. Like a forensic scientist reconstructing a crime scene, he builds 3D models of how all animals move within a group of hunters. He wants to know more about the network of interactions: who leads and who follows? Where does the octopus look for information? And does a well placed punch change the behavior of a fish?