Clever as a chimp, fish trains oc­to­pus to catch its prey

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Sarah Knap­ton SCI­ENCE EDI­TOR

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.

Blue Planet II

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

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