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Scientists discover an underwater “city” built by octopuses

Gloomy octopusScientists have spotted a group of 15 octopuses gathering together in one spot, communicating with one another and building dens out of shells. The team of marine biologists, led by professor David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University, named the site, which is in Jervis Bay off eastern Australia, “Octlantis”. Their findings came as a a surprise because it has long been thought that Octopus tetricus, better known as the gloomy octopus (or common Sydney octopus), was, as befits its name, something of a loner, meeting other individuals just once a year to mate.


All images by Sylke Rohrlach

Gloomy octopusScientists do not yet know whether octopus "cities" such as Octlantlis are common. One other site was discovered in 2009, also in Jervis Bay, and named "Octopolis". Researchers believe that the octopuses built their dens in that place because of the presence of an unidentifiable human-made metal object, which formed a kind of artificial reef, offering protection from sharks, seals and dolphins. In Octlantis, however, there is no object to explain why the gloomy octopuses have congregated there. Instead, it might be the jutting rocks on the seabed that first attracted them to the area.

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