Octopus video with shocking twist

By AG Staff Writer 29 March 2016
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The latest octopus video to take the web by storm finishes with a shocking twist.

WELL, THAT WAS unexpected.

“This is for those of you who thought the octopus was a master of disguise,” said Reddit user ‘Exoccet’, who posted this video online yesterday – and that, apparently, was a lot of us, given the 13 second clip has racked up almost three million views in two days.

Little information comes with the video, although one commenter, ‘Alantha’ identifies himself as an ecologist and suggests the octopus is a coconut octopus or veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) and – spoiler alert – the creature that ambushes it is a species of electric ray, or numb ray.

Dr Zoe Doubleday, a marine biologist at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, says it is difficult to be certain of the species of the octopus without knowing the location of the clip and because of octopuses’ well-documented ability to alter their shape and colour.

However Zoe’s not surprised the octopus was seemingly trumped by the ray in the camouflage stakes in this video.

“It’s pretty clear the octopus is being chased by the diver, so this isn’t a natural situation – I’d be more interested in seeing an octopus being ambushed by a ray if there was a hidden camera,” said Zoe. She points out that the octopus inks in the direction of the diver and morphs its skin papillae to appear more threating to its potential prey – the diver with the camera, not the hidden ray – just before it is ambushed by the latter.

Dr Chris Izzo, another marine biologist at the University of Adelaide, confirmed the hidden predator is most likely a species of numb ray by its rounded snout and stumpy tail. Numb rays or coffin rays, as Chris explained, have electric organs that can generate significant shocks when attacking prey. 

So chances are, the octopus was significantly more shocked than we were by how this clip ended. “The octopus was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Chris.