When Annoyed by Males, Female Octopuses Throw Seashells

The Art of Defense: How Female Octopuses Respond to Annoyance


In a fascinating display of behavior, female octopuses in Australia have been observed throwing seashells at male octopuses when annoyed. This intriguing action was first captured on camera, showcasing a unique aspect of octopus interaction.

Both male and female octopuses were seen engaging in this throwing behavior, but females did so 66% more often than males, particularly in or near interactions with other octopuses. This behavior, which includes arm probes or other forms of contact, is a complex one, previously only seen in non-human creatures like chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys, elephants, and birds.

The researchers, including Professor David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University, noted that while it’s challenging to determine the exact intent behind this shell-chucking, the observations suggest that octopuses are capable of making targeted throws at others. The octopuses struck by the thrown objects often changed their behavior, either dodging or raising their arms towards the thrower.

This discovery of octopuses throwing objects at each other is novel, as octopuses are mostly solitary creatures. The behavior seems to be another attempt by them to control interpersonal interaction, sometimes denoting anger. The researchers found that darker-colored octopuses could throw with more force and were more likely to hit another octopus.

The octopuses in Australia, known for their unique marine life, continue to surprise and fascinate scientists and animal enthusiasts alike with their complex behaviors and interactions.