Pharyngula

Red devils?

The Squid blog links to a wonderful National Geographic video of the Humboldt squid. Watch them attack divers! I cheered! Alas, the squid’s efforts to taste monkey meat were frustrated, and the noble beasts have not learned to love the taste of sweet manflesh…yet.

Comments

  1. #1 rrt
    April 28, 2006

    Neat video.

    It’s interesting to see how they “attack.” I imagine it’d be a bit different if they were more certain this was prey. I thought it was especially interesting when it went for his mask…it went to it VERY quickly, and started tugging on it several times in an almost human-like fashion.

  2. #2 Paul Riddell
    April 28, 2006

    Rrt, Pacific giant octopuses do the same exact thing: in their case, though, they’ve apparently learned that divers can’t function well without masks, so they automatically go for the masks if threatened. (I understand from several people that the big fad among idiot divers along the Pacific coast is to dive down to lairs of big Pacific giants and try to drag them to the surface: the octopus won’t attack by biting, but it sees nothing wrong with pulling off masks or regulators in its attempt to escape, and apparently the proof that these dolts are “real divers” is that they can still get to the surface with a very miffed Pacific Giant with or without their safety gear. I’m waiting for one of them to do something really stupid and get a “The Power of Darwin Compels You!” smiting, but unfortunately the poor octopus would probably be blamed for the death.

  3. #3 rrt
    April 28, 2006

    I’m afraid you’re right, Paul, they probably would be blamed. I’d be interested to see if the GPOs were actually encountering that many divers to learn (in their lifespan) their vulnerabilities. I’ve always assumed the facemask is a target simply because it’s small and seemingly removable, and they can get a grip on it.

    In the video, I was just fascinated at how it looked so much like a human yanking repeatedly on, say, a stubborn seatbelt, and the speed with which it was able to “pounce” on the target.

  4. #4 Barry
    April 28, 2006

    It’s quite likely that the octopods are just grabbing at random. When they grab a mask or facepiece, the diver notices. The diver might have had their torsos, arms and legs grabbed repeatedly, but it’s the breathing interference which gets his/her attention.

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