20131108 095420 from Jessica Kendall-Bar on Vimeo.

I fed octopuses in Roy Caldwell’s lab in the Integrative Biology Department last summer. I’m continuing to feed them this year and I’m studying their drilling behavior. Octopuses drill a hole in the shells of gastropods and bivalves to release their venom, paralyze the prey and therefore relax the prey’s grip on the shell, and eventually remove the gastropod from its shell. It is a process that hasn’t been well studied, partly because it’s almost impossible to observe when the octopus has enveloped the shell.

This is the Abdopus aculeatus I am working with and the hole it drilled last week in the shell of Littorina littorea, a sea snail:

20130927_151329This is a photo of my graduate student adviser, Jean Alupay, doing brain surgery on an octopus! She is studying the autotomization of arms by Abdopus aculeatus and was seeing if there is a connection between a part of the brain located between the eyes, connected with sensations of fear and pain, is controlling the dropping of arms by this species of octopus.

Here’s a video of the octopuses in the lab. I took these videos on my phone so that I could rewatch them and look at the octopuses’ behavior, so the footage is definitely not high quality. I also edited it on a free version of a video editor which insisted I put their watermark on the video. My apologies. Better videos to come.

Octovid1 from Jessica Kendall-Bar on Vimeo.

A video and a slideshow of photos (6 frames per second) as the octopus closes in on its third snail on November 1st.

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Some more photos of the octopuses: