Here at Mind Matters we strive to be your full-service source of octopus-cognition news. And in my last post on that, I described humans making videos for octopuses. So it’s only fitting that I link to this expand=1] film—a human-mollusc video event where the shoe is on the other tentacle.
Diver Victor Huang was exploring the waters near Wellington when he turned his new video camera on an octopus, which snatched the camera out of his hands and swam away. The camera was recording, and Huang, who had just spent $700 on it, was determined to get it back, and did. Result: the first film ever shot by a mollusc.
Maybe Robert McKee would call that a mere gimmick (the octopus, like Steven Spielberg, appears more interested in playing with the technology than in making a statement). On the other hand, maybe not: The film has conflict, strong motivations, several reversals, and suspense (one character pulls a gun on the other, and I defy you not to worry that he’ll shoot).
And, back on the science side of the seesaw, the movie’s also consistent with the faith researchers in this field have in their subjects’ intelligence. Huang says the octopus went straight for his camera, and, as you can see, it wasn’t trying to eat it. In other words, Huang thinks, the animal wasn’t scared or looking for a fight or acting on reflex. It was curious.
Want to learn more? In this post Hannah at Culturing Science thinks (and links) brilliantly about the challenge of defining “intelligence” and “consciousness” in an octopus.