Volunteer naturalist Linda Barre reports:
The other day, the high school students I was leading on a tidepool tour found a red octopus in a surge channel. It slid under a rock to hide. I gently put the tip of my bamboo chopstick pointer near where the octopus vanished to see what would happen. The tips of two tentacles came out to explore the chopstick, feeling around.
Then in a flash one tentacle shot out and wrapped around and around the stick and I found myself engaged in a tug-of-war! What strength that little animal possesses!
I let go of the chopstick after a minute of resisting, and the octopus waved it around, wielding it like a conductor’s baton as it tried to pull the chopstick into its hiding place. It moved the chopstick around quite a bit, trying several different ways until it got the stick to fit between the rocks.
When it didn’t fit all the way into its little hideaway, the octopus let go. I picked up the stick again and the octopus again stuck out its tentacles probing around for the stick again and we did the tug of war once more before our group had to move on.
I think the octopus liked the game of tug-of-war because when I stopped it let go shortly after me. It was fun and seemed like I was dealing with a high intelligence.