Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

Shallow-water octopuses have been reported as major predators of motile species in benthonic marine communities, capturing their prey by different foraging techniques. This study assessed for the first time the feeding ecology, foraging behavior, and defensive strategy during foraging, including the use of body patterns, to construct a general octopus foraging strategy in a shallow water-reef system. Octopus insularis was studied in situ using visual observations and video recordings. The diet included at least 55 species of crustaceans (70%), bivalves (17.5%), and gastropods (12.5%); however, only four species accounted for half of the occurrences: the small crabs Pitho sp. (26.8%) and Mithrax forceps (23.9%), the bivalve Lima lima (5.3%), and the gastropod Pisania pusio (4.9%). Poke and crawl were most frequent foraging behaviors observed in the video recordings. The foraging behaviors were associated with environmental variables and octopus body size. The sequences of foraging behavior showed characteristics of a tactile saltatory searching predator, as well as a visual opportunist. Body patterns showed a relationship with foraging behavior, habitat variables, and octopus body size. Mottle was the most frequent pattern, especially during poke and crawl, in shallower depths. Dorsal light–ventral blue green was more frequent during swimming at midwater, and Blotch was the normal pattern during web-over by large animals. The large proportion of two species of small crabs in den remains, the intense search for food during short hunting trips, and the intense use of cryptic body patterns during foraging trips, suggest that this species is a ‘time-minimizing’ forager instead of a ‘rate-maximizer’.

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