The Secret Lives of Shell Dwelling Octopuses

Latest update July 28, 2019 Started on May 6, 2019
sea

In the beaches of Balandra, La Paz, Mexico, two species of octopus hide away in shells. In another part of the world, octopuses are using shells as tools, remarkable for an invertebrate, are these Mexican octopuses also tool users?

May 6, 2019
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In The Field

Today was a great day: success! Thanks to our intrepid ROV (yet to be named...) we found not one, but six octopuses! They all used shelters as we predicted. Five were using shells, but curiously one was using a very old beer can.


We know from other studies, based in Sydney Harbour Bay if I remember correctly, that octopuses often use our trash as a safe place to live. In fact, the above-mentioned study shows that where there is more rubbish there are more octopuses... our impact, so often harmful, can counterintuitively help some species. Today it was about succeeding in the search for our target species thanks to the help of National Geographic, SoFar Ocean and the SSE Initiative - thank you very much!

The great news is that these discoveries were not in our target area, they were made in a test outside the Instituto La Paz CICIMAR (https://www.cicimar.ipn.mx/)..) Now we have two sites to compare our hypotheses regarding the separation of ecological niches into sympatric octopus species! Wahoo!

Gavan

El día fue un día trascendental : ¡éxito! Gracias a nuestro intrépido ROV (aún por nombrar...) no encontramos uno, sino seis pulpos! Todos usaban refugios como predijimos. Cinco estaban usando conchas, pero curiosamente uno estaba usando una lata de cerveza muy vieja.

Sabemos por otros estudios, con sede en Sydney Harbour Bay si recuerdo correctamente, que los pulpos a menudo utilizan nuestra basura como un lugar seguro para vivir. De hecho, el estudio antes mencionado muestra que donde hay más basura hay más pulpos... nuestro impacto, tan a menudo perjudicial, puede ayudar contraintuitivamente a algunas especies. Muchas otras líneas de investigación también sugieren que los cefalópodos PUEDEN beneficiarse de nuestro impacto global, pero esa es la historia es para otro día. Hoy se trataba de tener éxito en la búsqueda de nuestra especie objetivo gracias a la ayuda de National Geographic, SoFar Ocena y la Iniciativa SSE - muchas gracias!

La gran noticia es que estos descubrimientos no estaban en nuestra zona objetivo, se hicieron en una prueba fuera del Instituto La Paz CICIMAR (https://www.cicimar.ipn.mx/)..) ¡Ahora tenemos dos sitios para comparar nuestras hipótesis con respecto a la separación de nichos ecológicos en especies de pulpos simpátricos! ¡Wahoo!

Gavan

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Preparation

So what is the science behind the significance of our work in Balandra? One of the biggest questions in evolutionary biology and ecology is - why do species coexist? The question is even more important when closely related species appear to occupy the same niche. In Balandra we have three species of octopus. Two are clearly are in very similar niches. A recent doctoral thesis (Chelsea Bennice 2019, Florida), shows that two species of octopus in the Florida lagoon actually do not overlap that much at all even thought they are 'sympatric' ie they are found together.


In fact, it seems one hunts a night, the other during the day, one lives on hard substrate, the other soft, etc. What we have in Balandra could be more exciting as at least two species are using, or trying to use, the same refuge type - clam shells. Our observations suggest one of the species is very aggressive or bold, compared to the other species. Differences in species level sets of behaviours are known as "behavioural syndromes" - see the Wikipedia page. It might be that this alone is allowing them to coexist. One species might take risks, get more food but gets eaten quicker by predators. The other is shy but survives predation better. This might allow stable coexistence. Alternatively, we may find a similar story as to the one in Florida, they might be doing rather different things although at first glance they seem to be occupying the same niche. Lastly, we might actually be witnessing the middle stage of a process where one outcompetes the other, causing local extinction, a prediction of the "competitive exclusion principle", which states that two species cannot occupy exactly the same niche and either they partition the niche or one drives the other extinction.

So, Balandra allows us to test these hypotheses using octopuses, and cephalopods have not been studied in this way, very much. Therefore we have an exciting opportunity in an almost perfect location. We may also find that the octopuses are using the shells as tools (my personal dream!), but Nefer is rightly sceptical about this.

I hope this explains why we are doing what we are doing and it's potential significance

For the figure from Wikipedia:

1: A smaller (yellow) species of bird forages across the whole tree. 2: A larger (red) species competes for resources. 3: Red dominates in the middle for the more abundant resources. Yellow adapts to a new niche restricted to the top and bottom of the tree, avoiding competition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitiveexclusionprinciple

Entonces, ¿cuál es la ciencia detrás de la importancia de nuestro trabajo en Balandra? Una de las preguntas más importantes en biología evolutiva y ecología es - ¿por qué coexisten las especies? La pregunta es aún más importante cuando las especies estrechamente relacionadas parecen ocupar el mismo nicho. En Balandra tenemos tres especies de pulpo. Dos están claramente en nichos muy similares. Una tesis doctoral reciente (Chelsea Bennice 2019, Florida), muestra que dos especies de pulpo en la laguna de Florida en realidad no se superponen tanto en absoluto incluso pensó que son 'simpátricos', es decir, se encuentran juntos.

De hecho, parece que uno caza una noche, el otro durante el día, uno vive en sustrato duro, el otro suave, etc. Lo que tenemos en Balandra podría ser más emocionante ya que al menos dos especies están utilizando, o tratando de utilizar, el mismo tipo de refugio - conchas de almeja. Nuestras observaciones sugieren que una de las especies es muy agresiva o audaz, en comparación con las otras especies. Las diferencias en los conjuntos de comportamientos a nivel de especies se conocen como "síndromes de comportamiento" - ver la página de Wikipedia. Puede ser que sólo esto les esté permitiendo coexistir. Una especie puede tomar riesgos, obtener más comida, pero los depredadores comen más rápido. El otro es tímido, pero sobrevive mejor a la depredación. Esto podría permitir una coexistencia estable. Alternativamente, podemos encontrar una historia similar a la de Florida, podrían estar haciendo cosas bastante diferentes aunque a primera vista parecen estar ocupando el mismo nicho. Por último, podríamos estar presenciando la etapa intermedia de un proceso en el que uno supera al otro, causando la extinción local, una predicción del "principio de exclusión competitiva", que establece que dos especies no pueden ocupar exactamente el mismo nicho y tampoco el mismo nicho y tampoco el mismo nicho particionan el nicho o uno impulsa la otra extinción.

Por lo tanto, Balandra nos permite probar estas hipótesis utilizando pulpos, y los cefalópodos no han sido estudiados de esta manera, mucho. Por lo tanto, tenemos una oportunidad emocionante en una ubicación casi perfecta. También podemos encontrar que los pulpos están utilizando las conchas como herramientas (¡mi sueño personal!), pero Nefer es con razón escéptico al respecto.

Espero que esto explique por qué estamos haciendo lo que estamos haciendo y su importancia potencial

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In The Field

Delighted to get our ROV in the salty water with Nefer and Dr Marcial :)


Did not see much as it was very turbid and a sandy shore quite barren of life. Also got many curious tourists asking what we were doing. They were very impressed when we said we were working with National Geographic

Tomorrow, or Wednesday we go to Balandra to see what those sneaky octopuses are up too

Encantado de conseguir nuestro ROV en el agua salada con Nefer y el Dr. Marcial :)

No vio mucho como era muy turbia y una orilla de arena bastante estéril de la vida. También tenemos muchos turistas curiosos preguntando qué estábamos haciendo. Estaban muy impresionados cuando dijimos que estábamos trabajando con National Geographic

Mañana, o el miércoles vamos a Balandra para ver lo que esos pulpos furtivos están arriba también

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Preparation

If you are reading this, or aware of the history of marine life discovery then you probably need do not need an introduction when I use the name Jack Cousteau.


He and his less famous team inspired many marine biologists, including myself. Although eccentric, and perhaps even dangerous and unethical by modern practices he led the way in providing marine life observations at a time when the technology did not really exist, and if it did not exist he and his team invented it.

Here in La Paz the name Cousteau may bring mixed emotions, depending on whether you are a local or a visitor. Clearly a pioneer who made the Baja California famous for its spectacular marine biodiversity, Jack Costeou is also rumored to have been a treasure seeker, looking to find and sell gold stolen by the Spanish many hundreds of years earlier.

Whatever the truth, he is immortalised on the La Paz Malecon, forever wistfully staring out to sea, no doubt dreaming of his next big adventure.

Si usted está leyendo esto, o consciente de la historia del descubrimiento de la vida marina, entonces probablemente no necesita una introducción cuando yo uso el nombre, Jack Cousteau.

El y su equipo menos famoso inspiró a muchos biólogos marinos, incluyéndome a mí. Aunque excéntrico, y tal vez incluso peligroso y poco ético por las prácticas modernas, lideró el camino en la prestación de observaciones de la vida marina en un momento en que la tecnología no existía realmente, y si no existía él y su equipo la inventaron.

Aquí en La Paz el nombre Cousteau puede traer emociones mixtas, dependiendo de si usted es un local o un visitante. Claramente un pionero que hizo famosa la Baja California por su espectacular biodiversidad marina, también se rumorea que Jack Costeou fue un buscador de tesoros, buscando encontrar y vender oro robado por los españoles cientos de años antes.

Sea cual sea la verdad, es inmortalizado en el Malecón de La Paz, mirando para siempre al mar, sin duda soñando con su próxima gran aventura.

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In The Field

Last night we tested some peripheral equipment used to monitor the shell dwelling octopuses over the long term and also to try and attract squid using a green LED light system. We did this on the famous La Paz Malecon (promenade). Dr Marcial, Nefer and I got some strange looks as the thousands of passers-by saw us playing.


Anoche probamos algunos equipos periféricos utilizados para monitorear los pulpos que habitan la cáscara a largo plazo y también para tratar de atraer calamares usando un sistema de luz LED verde. Hicimos esto en el famoso Malecón de La Paz. Marcial, Nefer y yo tenemos una mirada extraña mientras los miles de transeúntes nos vimos tocando.

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Preparation

In conjunction with a cephalopod, citizen science SEE supported initiative (https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/cephalopodcitsci) we have organised an art meets science exhibition in La Paz, Mexico in August 2019
Part of the exhibition provides information to the citizens about what cephalopods are and what we can do to help discover their secrets

We have also created infographics in English, and as importantly, Spanish that can help advertise our citizen science project and provide valuable information about what we do and how citizens can help.

The infographics were created by Nefer and Paola

En conjunto con una iniciativa apoyada por la ciencia ciudadana cefalópoda SEE (https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/cephalopodcitsci) hemos organizado una exposición de arte en La Paz, México en agosto de 2019 Parte de la exposición proporciona información a los ciudadanos sobre qué son los cefalópodos y qué podemos hacer para ayudar a descubrir sus secretos

También hemos creado infografías en inglés, y lo que es más importante, en español que pueden ayudar a anunciar nuestro proyecto de ciencia ciudadana y proporcionar información valiosa sobre lo que hacemos y cómo los ciudadanos pueden ayudar.

Las infografías fueron creadas por Nefer y Paola

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Wahoo! Our ROV arrived, many thanks!


Just a quick update to say thanks, apologies for the very common first tests but we are all so excited.

¡Wahoo! Nuestro ROV llegó, muchas gracias!

Sólo una actualización rápida para decir gracias, una disculpa por las primeras pruebas , pero todos estamos muy emocionados.

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In The Field

First successful exploration!!


A couple of days ago we decided to go out and explore our study site again: Balandra. This is a beautiful place, with 7 white sand beaches and a mangrove area that is full of life (see the map of our tour in the photos).

We begin our journey from the first beach (nearest to the parking lote), we inflate our boat and we move walking towards the point that we select for our camp. Once there, we set up our camp and the necessary equipment. We started the exploration by joining an underwater camera (used for fishing) to a metal tube that allowed us to observe the bottom in real time. One person controlled the camera, and another directed the boat slowly, while two other people explored the surroundings in search of the famous octopuses.

Shortly after starting we found our first octopus !! probably Octopus fitchi. We put it in a container with water and after a few minutes, we carefully remove it from its shell. We took video and photographs and returned it to the place where it was inside its shell. Later we found the lair of a larger octopus, full of mussel shells, in this case, it was Octopus hubbsorum. At this moment is when we realized the enormous advantage offered by having a remote camera to record these organisms, since at the beginning we tried to record the octopus in his lair, using our personal cameras, but our presence scared him. Then we try with the underwater camera attached to the tube and the octopus even showed curiosity about the camera, he moved from front to back trying to decipher if it was a prey or a predator. It was beautiful to see this behaviour! Unfortunately, the light was not enough, and the video could not be seen clearly, but it was a pleasant encounter.

Afterwards, we decided to take a short break since the water was quite cold and to avoid frightening the octopuses we were all moving very slowly, so we lost heat quickly… so, after sunbathing and build an octopus in the sand as inspiration ... we decided to continue exploring.

We discovered the areas with the greatest potential to house octopuses and discarded other areas where there is hardly any shell in the bottom. We found another octopus inside a mussel, the first we have seen inside this bivalve species! And it seemed to be Paroctopus digueti. After observing it a bit, we also return it comfortably to the bottom.

Interestingly, we found a specimen of Octopus hubbsorum inside a big snail, this was easily distinguishable from the other octopus’s species due to its characteristic colouring pattern. When we put it in the container, after a while it came out, we took some photos and returned quickly to his house. We leave it in its place and continue.

Finally, we found again the first octopus we had registered. We could recognize it because it was still in the same shell and lacked the same frontal arm. Will we find it again on the next expedition?

This first exploration was a success! But we still have a lot to explore in this place and above all much to document!

Exciting!!

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Great work team, super proud of this achievement!
Preparation

Finding octopus dens


Octopuses are famous for their camouflage skills; however, they are also very good at hiding in shelters or dens. Apparently, each octopus has several dens to rest and feed in a certain area, within which they move in search of food. According to our experience working with octopuses, we have observed that each octopus has a couple of "main dens" in which they usually rest most of the time and eat quietly after catching various preys. In addition, they have several "auxiliary dens" within its hunting area, which they use to take refuge from predators, hide while hunting or just relax.

All these dens can be found in cracks between or beneath rocks, holes in the sand, abandoned tires, cans or bottles, among others, and are easily recognizable (especially the "main dens") by the empty mollusc shells littering the doorway. The main entrance of these dens is usually surrounded by an accumulation of small stones, shells of dead bivalves and some exoskeletons of arthropods such as crabs or lobsters.

When a den is recent or is inhabited, the remains of shells are completely clean and do not present algae or other epibionts. However, when the shells are visibly accumulated in one place but covered by algae, it can be said that it is an ancient or abandoned lair.

It could be thought that octopuses are somewhat disorganized when leaving the remains of their food right at the entrance of their "houses", or that it is not very intelligent to leave such an obvious signal that the den is occupied by an octopus, however, these remains are actually extremely useful when a predator approaches. We have witnessed that when an octopus feels observed, discovered or threatened inside its den, it hides quickly inside of it and collapses all the shells and rocks in the entrance, creating an immediate barrier against any attacker. This is recycling the "garbage" in a very intelligent and convenient way! This behaviour is especially useful on sandy bottoms where there are not many rocks to use as protection and the shells serve as a rigid and efficient barrier against any threat.

We know that the octopuses we seek in Balandra generally take refuge within bivalve shells, however, when exploring the site, we also found traces of dens under rocks and even in the sand with these characteristic traces. In this case, the shells belonged to very small bivalves (no more than 5 cm in length), so it is likely that they were consumed by the small octopuses that we are looking for.

We still have a lot to document in Balandra and much to discover about these experts in hiding. We hope to find more very soon and share more findings!

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Playa de Balandra


As the only non-Mexican on this project, and also the blog writer, I have the scary prospect of describing the uniqueness of the primary field site we will be working at - Playa de Balandra. I hope I can do it justice.

Located on the southern side of the northern tip to the north of La Paz, it is close to Isla Espirito Santo, another well known natural wonder that harbors a huge array of marine life, both above and below the water. Balandra is a coastal bay that includes a spectacular and healthy mangrove forest and beautiful sandy beaches. It is located within one of the main hydrological basins of La Paz.

Both of these amazing places are protected from fishing and sites recognized of outstanding natural beauty and wonder. Frequently recognized as one of the worlds most beautiful beaches, Balandra is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, it has parking facilities, toilets, and snacks for sale. It even has an emergency health service, something I was extremely grateful for when I ignorantly got stung by a stingray. Dear God that hurt. With tourists so wonderfully catered for how is it so pristine? Why kind of future could it possibly have? How can you conduct field science there?

The answers to these questions come down to a simple but unbreakably strong will of the local people and a great example of the power of social collectivism.

I have just got back from spending two weeks in La Paz and it clear from the outset that people are deeply in love with nature and in particular marine life. Everywhere you go there are incredible murals that mix ancient culture with modern stories of struggle but all feature animals, and nearly always a whale shark, octopus, turtle or other charismatic marina fauna. From seeing this first hand the remarkable story of how the local people have saved, and now 'own' Balandra is not all that surprising.

For decades rumors of outside investment in the region brought warnings of mass development to the area - think mega hotels, golf courses and worse. In 2007 the Colectivo Balandra (see here: http://balandraesnuestra.org/)) was formed to give a voice to local people, a voice of at least 18,000 citizens, of all ages and social groups, to request the authorities to protect Balandra. This social movement generated many great achievements, not least the publication of a state law that allows municipal governments to protect key terrestrial habitats within their territory; the creation of the first municipal protected natural area in this area that protects the hydrological basins that surround the wetland from urban development; the inclusion of Balandra in the Ramsar List of wetlands of international importance; and the beginning of the process to create a complementary natural area of ​​federal protection in the waters surrounding the municipal protected area. What is really striking is not that the movement was formed, many people around the world would want to protect their natural beauty, but that they succeeded to such a high degree!

This has resulted not only in an area of outstanding beauty being protected from urban development AND fishing, but it has created an immensely powerful feedback loop. Despite the very busy day, I was there, there was little or no rubbish of any kind lying around, even though plastic wrapping was being sold everywhere. It was much cleaner than many areas of 'beauty' I have visited around the world. It seemed to me that once you establish something and work hard to own it, it gives you a reason to take care of it. I was so impressed, but that is the wrong word, patronising even: I am in awe of what has been achieved here. At a time when my own country (the UK) is in political disarray, it is rejuvenating to see the people put aside differences to unite against overdevelopment.

So that is why we are working there, to start with. Such ideal conditions, without fisheries interference, allows us to test behavioural ecology hypotheses on animals that are not unduly influenced by 'artificial' selection for those who can avoid being caught or disturbed by human fishing. Of the two shelling dwelling octopuses we know reside there, one seems to be a lot bolder (sassy even!). In 'equal' times perhaps they coexist by dividing the shell occupancy niche, who knows (yet!) but when we have a natural baseline we can then see how these species with different 'behavioural syndromes' (not individual personality, but species-wide temperament) manage within areas without the same level of protection. This knowledge may then be used all around the world where the 'sassy-ness', or otherwise, of a species might influence how animals may coexist with humans. Just another testable hypothesis brought about by this expedition.

Must read: http://balandraesnuestra.org

Dr Gavan Cooke

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The disappearance of the Humbolt Squid (Dosidicus gigas)


Another important and incredibly valuable use of the Trident ROV will be to work in much deeper waters. The Gulf of California (more properly Baja California) once held seemingly unlimited numbers of one of the largest cephalopods, a squid, known as Humbolt's squid (Dosidicus gigas). Humbolt was a famous 17th-century polymath (basically good at everything!) who explored central and Latin American extensively (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlexandervonHumboldt). Amongst other pioneering work he discovered and described one of the largest squids to be found anywhere in the world.

This squid is a ferocious predator (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humboldtsquid) that can easily get to 2m in length - see picture - and has a very nasty beak, so nasty that divers have had to wear chain mail diving suits to dive with them, as our friend Luke Inman is doing in the photograph. They used to be superabundant in Baja California but due to over-fishing they have seemingly all but disappeared.

It may be that they have gotten smaller (known as fihseries induced evolution) so no longer caught, or they have changed their behavior, or actually gone altogether. It is striking that every scientist I spoke to on my visit to La Paz a few weeks ago asked me what I thought had happened to them. So, with so many people keen to find out, we will use the ROV, and less fancy light trapping kit, to investigate whether these amazing animals have gone forever.

Image courtesy of Luke Inman featuring himself and a large Humbolt squid (Dosidicus gigas)

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Light trapping
As these beaches and shallow waters have so much to offer, we are not missing the opportunity to investigate as much as we can. The areas are also home to hundreds of other species that might only come out at night. These species include squids, another favourite cephalopod of ours. We have bought a special green underwater LED lighting system, perfectly powered by a very small motorcycle battery.

This colour of light is known to attract squid, it is used by fishermen around the world. We hope to attract the squid and conduct a biodiversity survey, seeing which species are in the waters at various times of the year.

We also have another trick up our sleeves. We can modify a water container to house a light which will attract the larvae or babies of many different species. A small LED light is inserted, whilst the bottom is cut away and replaced with a plankton mesh (~5-10 micrometers): this allows mixing of water which prevents all the little trapped animals missing out on Oxygen. We can lower this to different depths and catch things that inhabit the waters horizontally. As many species have way many more individual offspring than fully grown adults, we be more likely to come across rare or unusual things.

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A few more bits about the octopuses and our research


O. fitchi and P. digueti inhabit the tidal and subtidal waters off the coast of La Paz, Mexico, and surrounding area. The two species are small benthic octopods (Cephalopoda) that have life histories that may be relatively unique in this branch of Cephalopoda. Octopus’s are thought to be nearly exclusively asocial but as they are both shell dwellers, meaning they seek refuge in dead clams, this resource may be under intense competition and encourages social interactions rarely seen in octopuses. This life history trait may be somewhat similar to that seen in hermit crabs which also use abandoned mollusk shells as refuges, which could be constantly fought over and would provide an interesting comparative approach to intraspecific resource competition, a fundamental area of behavioural ecology.

These octopuses have short lifespans (~12 months) and are therefore potentially ideal laboratory models, many generations can be reared and experimentally investigated in a relatively short amount of time. Cephalopods are notoriously difficult to track in the wild, due to the difficulty of inserting and maintain physical tags in and or on their very soft bodies. Using the refuge bivalve shell as a proxy to marking the animal provides a unique opportunity to follow the octopuses over the month we are out there.

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Nefer, and her colleagues at CICIMAR (http://www.cicimar.ipn.mx/Paginas/Inicio.aspx), had knowledge about the shell dwelling octopuses presence in the region for a long time and had worked with them from an environmental toxicology standpoint. When they told me about their shell dwelling existence, as a behavioral ecologist, I wondered just what they were up to...so Nefer and I went out and had a look for ourselves...


We set out into the field on a very typical blue-skied beautiful La Paz day, wading into the warm (for an Englishman!) waters that were crystal clear and less than 1m deep (at a low tide).

We managed to survey a small area, looking specifically for shells that might contain octopuses. Within a reasonably short time, I found one - success! I must have got lucky...we had a look inside the candidate shell and there one was...a rather large looking Paroctopus digueti (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paroctopus). This was very exciting, it was the first time I had encountered them and luckily for me, the photograph does not contain the sounds of me squealing like a little boy.

After the small survey area, the red square on the map provided, we waded around the area and summarised, with tides taken into account, the likely area where more would reside (within the green area). And this is just in Balandra...other sites close by are also known for their presence.

One last amazing discovery of the reconnaissance mission was the finding of a small but energetic fiddler crab population. These guys wave their claws around to attract females and are an important model in sexual selection (a part of evolutionary biology) studies. I love watching these guys do their thing (wait 13 seconds in the video) . A great end to a great day.

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The team in this project also run a citizen science project for cephalopod observations (https://www.facebook.com/groups/554841448361864/) and amazingly the amazing citizens and students of La Paz are providing us with field observations of these wonderful animals

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Expedition Background

Octopuses are well known for their incredible abilities, they can change their appearance instantaneously, hunt with other species and incredibly, use tools!


A species of octopus in Indonesia uses clam and coconut shells to hide from predators. Instead of simply hiding in them and then abandoning them when the coast is clear, they actually have the foresight to pick them and take them on their journeys. As this inhibits there normal rate of progress scientists have determined that they pass the test for the scientific definition of tool use.

We have discovered two species of octopuses in La Paz, Mexico, that are frequently seen hiding in clams, just like their Indonesian counterparts. These octopuses reside in the beautiful, pristine and protected beaches of Balandra.

Our mission is to investigate just what these secretly smart cephalopods are up to - are they using the clam shells as tools? If so, to what extent? We intend to use the full range of behavioral ecology and field techniques to answer defined scientific questions. We have a team of amazingly talented local undergraduates and postgraduates, some assistance from the local marine research institute and permissions from local authorities.

So far we in the process of gathering habitat ecology data via field surveys carried out by student volunteers. The ROV will be used to watch the wild behavior of these secretive yet amazing animals. This equipment is vital as disturbing via snorkeling causes them to hide away

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This is really cool! Excited to be following along!
Thanks David, we will try and post as frequently as we can.

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