Scientists have witnessed a strange fact – clobber octopus tentacles around the fish, and they do it not for protection or hunting. The octopus throws out a tentacle sharply in the direction of the fish, as if hitting her with a fist. This unpleasant behavior at first glance it seems the result of direct interspecific conflict, however, is not so simple. Scientists call it a “tactic of active suppression” of fish, it is in the midst of a joint hunting when octopus and fish get together to chase and catch prey.

Octopus and fish and hunt together and complement the strategy and strengths of each other – says marine biologist Eduardo Sampaio from the Lisbon University. When the hunting involves several partners, between individuals to a complex network of interaction, which involves the emergence of hierarchy and control. Scientists compare this phenomenon with the flea market in the school cafeteria when an older student can afford to alienate first-graders in line for a bun.

Sampaio with the team watched the interaction between the octopus Octopus cyanea with different species of fish in the Red sea. The researchers came to the conclusion that the strikes “fists” serves a specific purpose in interspecies relationships. The most part of attacks is on hold hierarchy during the hunt, whether it be deterrence from mining, the urge to change the position in the team or even expulsion from the group. Sometimes a certain fish parasite is not involved in the hunt and behaves like a parasite, hoping to reap the fruits of the labor of others – and in such cases, the octopus is also not going to put up with it.

Beating is not always for practical reasons. In two cases, the researchers observed the strikes, not involving attempts to secure prey. Sometimes it was just evil behavior to wear down the fish and not allow to get close to production. Also, it could be a form of aggression with a delayed benefit to further interaction fish-partner behaved yourself, or with the aim to contribute to the overall group.
Source — Ecology