Recent research published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin has demonstrated that octopuses are increasingly using marine debris as shelter.
The researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil examined images taken by citizens scientists worldwide to determine the octopus interaction with marine debris.
The researchers found that in almost 40% of the cases, the octopuses were using glass for shelter. The researchers hypothesized that this might be due to the internal texture being closer to seashells and other natural materials. In a quarter of the cases, the octopus chose to use plastic debris as their shelter of choice.
One of the more interesting findings concerns the pygmy octopus in Brazil. This little octopus is not known to use natural materials as shelter, and the are no recorded cases of it doing so. It seems that this octopus uses trash exclusively to shelter.
While the use seems positive in some cases, the researchers warned against being optimistic since the animals could become over-reliant on an artificial resource.
Writing in the study, the scientists stated:
“Citizen science provided important evidence on octopus/marine litter interactions, highlighting its value and the need for more investigations on the subject. This information is fundamental to help prevent and mitigate the impacts of litter on octopuses, and identify knowledge gaps that require attention.”
You can find out more information and the study here.