A gloomy octopus

Image: Wikimedia commons/Sylke Rohrlach CC-BY-SA 4.0

It was once thought octopuses were not very social animals. They seem to keep to themselves, only meeting to fight or mate. It turns out that’s not always the case. A social octopus should consider moving to Octlantis.

Searching the waters of Jervis Bay, off the New South Wales coast, researchers recently found a strange area, roughly the size and shape of two long buses side by side. In this small area were around 10–15 octopuses. That might not seem like many, but for such notoriously solitary animals, it’s akin to a bustling metropolis.

This octopus city is far from a featureless plain. The octopuses hang out around rocky outcrops. To improve the city, they have surrounded the rocks with piles of shells, and even built dens in the shell piles. Among the shells, the octopuses have also collected glass bottles and fishing sinkers.

Octlantis is not a calm place to live. Octopuses regularly threaten each other and fight over dens to live in. They can be so busy fighting, they don’t notice sharks swimming nearby. But if you lose your house in Octlantis, have no fear. There’s another octopus city, known as Octopolis, just around the corner!

Octopuses? Octopi?

What do you call more than one octopus? Many people would say octopi, using a Latin (Ancient Roman) way of turning words into plurals. But the word octopus is based on Ancient Greek, so it might be more correct to call them octopodes. These days, the most common solution is to simply call them octopuses.

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