Do octopuses ever live together?
Octopuses are typically solitary creatures, but a group of them were found living together off Australia's coastline.
A few years ago, divers on Australia’s east coast discovered dozens of octopuses living together and getting along – more or less. The finding, named Octopolis, came as a huge surprise, because these are notoriously anti-social creatures that usually live alone.
Hours of diving and footage from cameras rigged around Octopolis are revealing complex behaviour: residents tussle and fight (but don’t kill each other), and communicate via colours flickering across their skins.
It’s thought that Octopolis was founded when a 30cm object – possibly made of metal – landed on a scallop bed. A few pioneers moved into this impromptu shelter, feeding on the surrounding shellfish.
The discarded shells then provided ideal material for fellow settlers to create dens, allowing the ‘city’ to expand. Octopolis is unusual, but not unique.
A second site nearby, known as Octlantis, is home to a similar throng, showing that these molluscs are not as unneighbourly as we previously thought.
Do you have a wildlife question you’d like answered? Email your question to email@example.com or post it to Q&A, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Immediate Media Company, Eagle House, Bristol, BS1 4ST.
Main image: Common Sydney octopus showing a tentacle and suckers. © cbimages/Alamy
Subscribe to BBC Wildlife Magazine
Get the official copy of the Wild Isles by Patrick Barkham!
Subscribe to BBC Wildlife Magazine today and get a copy of the Wild Isles by Patrick Barkham plus, you will save 35% off the shop price and pay just £3.58 an issue!