Contrary to their reputation, octopuses are indeed a social bunch. That’s what researchers realized after watching over 52 hours of film of the shallow-water Octopus tetricus in Jervis Bay, Australia. They saw footage of octopuses communicating with each other using body postures and by changing colours.

For example when an octopus with a dark body colouring approached a pale coloured octopus, the pale octopus retreated. However when a dark coloured octopus approached another dark coloured octopus, the two were more likely to grapple with each other.

Original research paper published in Current Biology on January 21, 2015.

Names and affiliations of selected authors

David Scheel, Department of Environmental Science, Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.A.