'Put Up Your Eight Dukes': Scientists Document Octopuses Punching Fish

A group of researchers have documented octopuses “punching” fish during cooperative hunting expeditions, activity they recorded and shared on December 18.

The footage seen here, recorded by Eduardo Sampaio, Simon Gingins, and Martim Costa Seco shows eight examples of what researchers called “active displacement of partner fish during collaborative hunting.”

“To this end, the octopus performs a swift, explosive motion with one arm directed at a specific fish partner, which we refer to as punching,” they wrote.

The incidents were recorded in waters off Israel and Egypt during 2018 and 2019. Among the victims were tailspot squirrelfish, and several species of groupers and goatfish.

The researchers found that in certain cases, the “punches” appeared to be delivered in order to take prey for themselves. But on other occasions, there didn’t appear to be any “immediate benefits,” which raised the question of whether the octopuses where lashing out in an effort to get their hunting partners in line to “promote collaborative behavior,” or were merely being “spiteful.” Credit: Eduardo Sampaio, Simon Gingins, and Martim Costa Seco via Storyful