Bottles, cans, batteries: octopuses found with waste on the seabed | marine life

From mimicking poisonous creatures to shooting jets of water at aquarium light switches to turn them off, octopuses are simply resourceful. Now, an analysis of underwater images suggests octopuses are increasingly using discarded bottles, cans and other human waste as shelter or sanctuary for their eggs.

The study – the first to systematically assess and characterize octopus waste use using crowdsourced imagery – analyzed hundreds of underwater photos posted on social media platforms and databases. images, or collected by marine biologists and diving interest groups.

The research, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, documented 24 species of octopus sheltering inside glass bottles, cans and even an old battery; burrow under a mixture of bottle caps and seashells; even carrying plastic objects while “stilts” on two tentacles, to hide from predators.

The most common interaction recorded was using garbage for shelter. Photography: Edmar Bastos

“The deep-sea recordings were extremely interesting, because even at great depths these animals interact with litter,” said Professor Maira Proietti of the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, who supervised the research. “They clearly see that there is a lot of litter around, so it can act as a kind of artificial camouflage.

“It shows their extreme adaptability. They are very intelligent animals, and they will use what they have available to them to keep sheltering or walking around with protection.

Octopuses seemed to show a preference for undamaged objects, as well as darker or opaque containers, and the most common interaction recorded was using garbage for shelter.

Proietti said: “Although these interactions may seem positive for animals because they lack natural shelter such as shells, it is not a good thing to think that animals can use litter for shelter because shells disappeared.”

Sheltering or laying eggs inside discarded tires, batteries or plastic objects could also expose octopuses to heavy metals and other harmful chemicals, she said.

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