Clever as a chimp, fish trains octopus to catch its prey
FISH may be as clever as primates, scientists now suspect, after new footage showed a grouper fish and octopus communicating and collaborating to catch prey. The astonishing partnership was captured for the first time by film makers shooting on the Great Barrier Reef, off Australia, for the BBC One’s Blue Planet II.
Groupers and octopuses hunt the same small fish which dart in and out of the coral, and often hide in crevices which are too small for the grouper.
But the larger fish has come up with an extraordinary solution. After chasing a fish into a crevice, it turns slightly paler to attract an octopus’s attention, before dropping its head and wiggling its tail to signal that a potential meal the hole.
For its part, the octopus pokes its long, thin tentacles into the crevice, flushing out the prey.
Sir David Attenborough, who narrates the series, said: “The fish takes fright and swims straight into the is hiding in grouper’s jaws. Sometimes the octopus gets the reward, sometimes the groper does.
“These very different species have discovered that teamwork brings success.”
Scientists now think the partnership between the grouper and octopus, which involves rudimentary sign language, shows intelligence which could rival that of crows or even chimpanzees, our closest relative.
The footage will be screened tomorrow in the third Blue Planet II episode Reef, which is focusing on the creatures who live on and around coral reefs.
Smart work: A coral grouper and an octopus work together to flush out food on the Great Barrier Reef in northern Australia. The footage will be screened tomorrow in