Octopus Hijinks!
August 8, 2003 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Nature is amazing. "Camera approaching coral with no sign of animal. As the camera gets closer, an O. vulgaris that was camouflaged changes color to white and becomes visible." This page leads to a video clip containing "special effects" that put the movie industry to shame. (via Looka!)
posted by stefnet (55 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2003

Theres millions of them.. waiting.. watching..
posted by stbalbach at 10:33 AM on August 8, 2003

Wow. I had to freezeframe before I could believe it. Amazing!
posted by widdershins at 10:34 AM on August 8, 2003

Made me say, "Whuh?" Scooby-Doo-style.
posted by jilly at 10:35 AM on August 8, 2003

I wish I could do this.
posted by DragonBoy at 10:35 AM on August 8, 2003

Unbelievable, unless I did it frame by frame ... Thanks, stefnet.
posted by carter at 10:38 AM on August 8, 2003

very very cool
posted by scarabic at 10:38 AM on August 8, 2003

I want one...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:43 AM on August 8, 2003

I can't stop replaying it. That is really, really cool.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:54 AM on August 8, 2003

Damn. I love Octopuses, but can't believe this is real. Their camouflage is good, but I don't think they can pull of different perspectives so greatly.
Especially suspect to me are the spikes on the lower right part of the angle. They seem to protrude into the water, then melt back into the main body. They don't have control like that, and wouldn't most cephalopods like this just ink and run, not just appear when something (like this camera) gets close? They're not brave, and wouldn't show themselves to intimidate anyone.

Or is my skepticism running over?
posted by Busithoth at 10:57 AM on August 8, 2003

oh wow. I guess you need good camouflage when you are essentially all meat swimming around pretty unprotected...
posted by dabitch at 11:02 AM on August 8, 2003

If I saw that happen in person I think I'd choke on my snorkel.
posted by Tubes at 11:06 AM on August 8, 2003 [1 favorite]

Busithoth: Look at the beginning of the video. The "genuine" part of the plant/coral is moved quite a bit by the water. The area from which the creature emerges remains completely still.
posted by sharksandwich at 11:08 AM on August 8, 2003

I have to agree with Busithoth, as amazing as it looks.. there are some oddities, notably with the parts of the "coral" that just sorta retract into the body.

Either way, after wandering about the page to se how legit it really was, I did find a nother really cool video Three S. Apama hovering in front of rocks in courting display with color clouds moving along body and arms
posted by loukas_c at 11:09 AM on August 8, 2003

If that's real, it's amazing. Great link anway stefnet.
posted by squealy at 11:13 AM on August 8, 2003

On a lark I plopped the observers name into google, and conspiratorially enough the first returned link was for a Roger Hanlon, digital manipulator.. except it was some guy and a copy of photoshop.. and of course the remainder of the links was for a Roger Hanlon, marine biologist, investigating cephalopods.

posted by loukas_c at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2003

Damn. I love Octopuses, but can't believe this is real. Their camouflage is good, but I don't think they can pull of different perspectives so greatly.

Sure they can. I've seen cephalopods do much more impressive color-shifting allatime on the tv.

Especially suspect to me are the spikes on the lower right part of the angle. They seem to protrude into the water, then melt back into the main body. They don't have control like that

Actually, octopuses/pi do have some control over their skin texture. ISTR that it varies by species though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:19 AM on August 8, 2003

And let me add that I'd love love love to have chromatophores. Or even... photophores.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:21 AM on August 8, 2003

It would seem that if it were fake, it would have been an awful lot of trouble to go through for a little university-housed cephalopod database, you know? I can't really imagine what the gain would be.

But yes, watching it frame by frame makes it much more clear as to what changes happen.
posted by stefnet at 11:24 AM on August 8, 2003

The spikes are behind the octopus, and appear to "retract" as the octopus moves in front of them. At least, that's how I see it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:25 AM on August 8, 2003

I don't think the coral in the bottom right is moved in; I think the octopus is moving/getting bigger, covering the coral. I don't think it's fake, though I'm certainly no expert. Either way, pretty damn cool.
posted by widdershins at 11:25 AM on August 8, 2003

when i was a boy i'd often get a similar effect by wearing different types of plaid all together and then standing very, very still.

nothing like that amazing video however, mostly i think the other kids wanted to ignore me.

tubes: i think i'd do more than choke on my snorkel.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:29 AM on August 8, 2003

choke on my snorkel

That sounds dirty.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:31 AM on August 8, 2003

Obligatoy -

I for one welcome our new tentacled overlords!
posted by Blue Stone at 11:47 AM on August 8, 2003

I'm actually a cephalopod.

Though I was born to seemingly normal parents in Stirling, Scotland, I always knew that there was something special about me. First of all, I was an octopus. My eight legs wriggled while other kids boldly strided back and forth to the slide. I sat on my swing like a lump of jelly while Irma and Chuck swung higher and higher, giggling. While they enjoyed tacos and played mandolins, I prodded at oatmeal, nudged saxophones.
I gradually came to terms with my body, experimenting during adolescence with drugs and sex. My first inking incident was an acute embarassment - to my girlfriend of the time, more than to myself - but these early traumas were eventually forgotten. The one intuition I couldn't shake, however, was that I was different.
Shortly after I graduated from college with my Lit degree, I confronted my parents about my semitranslucent skin, my globule eyes.
"I'm not a human!" I cried, voice shrill and flatulent.
"Of course you are, honey," said my mum. Her voice was cracking, her eyes glazed-over. She glanced at my father.
"You're a human on the inside, Sean." He patted me on the top of my head. It made a flat, squelching sound.
"But that doesn't matter!" I gurgled. "For twenty years I've told my friends that I was simply born with a disability, that my appearance was the result of juvenile jaundice. But now I learn that that's not true! I'm not even a person!"
"You're our little person," said my mum, quietly.
"That's not enough," I said in a soft, trembly voice. "What am I really?"
"You're a cephalopod," said my dad.
"Arlen!" yelped my mother. Her lower lip began to tremble.
"Well he's got to learn sooner or later."
- - -

I visited the Falkirk library and made a bee-line for the librarian.
"Do you have any books on cephalopods?" I asked.
The librarian blanched, mouth twisting into a disgusted tentacle. "What are you?"
"Precisely," I said.
The only book in the stacks was E.W. Williams' classic The Seven Seas: a Taxonomy. Williams, the grandfather of popstar Robbie Williams, examined six or seven cephalopods in his chapter on coral symbionts. Learning about my biological cousins, twinkles of pride began to bloom inside me. I felt my ink inside my skin, and a wave of warm passed over (what I later knew as) my chromatophores.
Moments later, a young woman approached me, running briskly down the aisle. She had a leather jacket on, held tightly shut with her hands. And then - paf! - as her foot slipped under me and caught, she went tumbling to the floor, and from out of her jacket burst a half-dozen tomes: Anne McCaffrey novels, mostly, but also Hesse's Siddhartha and Althum Buxley's Mozart and Amelia Earhart: Simon of Aramathea's Contemporary Legacy. We were soon joined by a librarian and a security guard, who cuffed the crumpled book-thief.
"What the fuck did I trip over?" asked the glowering guttersnipe.
It was then that I realized that I was the colour of the floor.
The discovery of my colour-changing abilities not only gave my life a renewed sense of worth, but it kick-started my career in law-enforcement. Though Scotland Yard was initially dubious, sufficient evidence convinced them that land-roaming octopuses were not in fact particularly rare, and that my life-story could be trusted. I climbed the force quickly, gaining the affectionate nickname "Chipper."
Following a coral injury in 1987, however, I retired from police-duty. I did not miss the stressful workplace, the morally vacuous tory-voting inspectors, but the departure left a void in my life. While completing an M.A. in Art History, I began to work on the side as a marine lobbyist, trying to push through a grammatical amendment for the powerful Bathypoylpus Articus Foundation (which has quite an interesting pedigree, incidentally, founded during the Blackstead Riots of 1947, in a response to encroaching political sway by cuttlefish and lobster-dog interests). Within eighteen months, the Octopuses Act (UV 11341) had been enacted, and no more grammatical atrocities would be committed upon the Cephalopoda class; as our campaign slogan went, "Goodbye goodbye Octopi! Go Octopuses - just ask the Missus!"

posted by Marquis at 11:49 AM on August 8, 2003


(the movie links are switched. for Quicktime click on "RealPlayer" and vise versa)
posted by goddam at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2003

stefnet --That is wonderful. Thanks!
posted by lobakgo at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2003

cephalopods are crazy, they have way too many "features". they can change their texture as well as color, using papillae. they can create spikes, or rough textures like rocks and things. disturbing but true. i'm not saying the spikes are definitely part of the octopus in this video, but they do have that ability. they also have ink, which is odd, large brains, they move using water in the same way that jet engines use air.

they're also really smart too. here's a fun book.

and their underwater cities are fantastic.
posted by rhyax at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2003

This is why I loved watching nature shows as a kid -- who needed crappy sitcoms when the really cool stuff was all real?

And I thought the plural was Octopi, having taken latin in school (boy, I was a dork, huh? nature shows and latin. no wonder I didn't have many friends!). Didn't realize it was from Greek. Thanks, Marquis.
posted by evening at 12:07 PM on August 8, 2003

Metafilter- choke on your snorkel
posted by leapfrog at 12:29 PM on August 8, 2003

argh. MeFi ate my indents (which worked on preview), and I wrote "strided" instead of "strode." i am a buffoon!
posted by Marquis at 12:42 PM on August 8, 2003

I'm taking this to snopes, but even if it's not real it's amazing. Sort of like Finding Nemo meets Terminator.
posted by 111 at 12:47 PM on August 8, 2003

Oh yeah, and videos of that Indonesian octopus here
posted by Officeslacker at 12:53 PM on August 8, 2003

Marquis, you are beautiful. That was very entertaining. Thank you!
posted by luriete at 1:05 PM on August 8, 2003

This video caused my entire office to shut down for about ten minutes while everyone on my floor debated its authenticity. The verdict was that you can tell it's real because you can see the contours and the eye of the octopus long before it changes color, and the when it "appears", it appears precisely along those contours.

Either way, it's teh cool.
posted by vraxoin at 1:06 PM on August 8, 2003

I can't find the reference -- I remember seing a video on the web of an octopus (maybe a cuttlefish?) that swims a foot or so off the sandy ocean floor looking for prey. It emits bioluminescence in such a way as to completely eliminate its shadow, so as not to alert potential prey. Way cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:25 PM on August 8, 2003

I saw that on TV Officeslacker. Not sure where, might be Nat. Geo. It was amazing to see.
posted by ginz at 1:39 PM on August 8, 2003

I thought the plural was Octopi

I prefer octopods.
posted by piskycritter at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2003

Marquis, did you write that? It's tremendous, and you shouldn't be wasting it on the likes of us. (And thanks for doing your bit to extirpate the pseudo-plural "octopi"; if one wanted to be classically correct, it would be "octopodes," but it's not, it's octopuses.)
posted by languagehat at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2003

I think if you look closely, the "protruding" pieces might just be a matter of perspective on the pattern the little guy has on its skin. If you play the clip very slowly you can see the colours changing. I do think this clip cuts off about .03 seconds before a nasty explosion or something similar filling the camera lens.
posted by nelleish at 2:25 PM on August 8, 2003

Maybe Marquis needs to see Exodus Cephalopods International about his problem...
posted by PigAlien at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2003

Having seen these creatures while Scuba diving, this doesn't surprise me at all as real. What I REALLY want to see while diving are those cuttlefish that do all the psychedelic light shows.... Also, for a warm water octopus, that's a pretty good sized one.
posted by Eekacat at 2:47 PM on August 8, 2003

PBS just had on a Nature episode about Octopus that was great. I've seen a lot of programs about octopus, but was floored by the footage in this one of the Giant Pacific Octopus at the Seattle aquarium that caught and killed several sharks in it's tank. Apparently keepers would come in to work in the morning and find a dead shark, but couldn't figure out what was happening to them. So someone stayed overnight and caught the octopus on tape. Amazing animals.
posted by lobakgo at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2003

I saw that Nature special too, lobakgo. People here who scuba dive say those big octopi are very friendly and will swim over to check you out. On one hand that would freak me out (see "chokes on snorkle"), on the other, I'm thinking about taking scuba lessons just so I can see one.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2003

Very nice, I just wish they knew how to compress a video. Damn people probably used some point and click conversion, an you can tell that the avi was made from the mpeg an not from the raw stream. Bastards. This would be so cool at a higher resolution.

posted by Grod at 3:23 PM on August 8, 2003

my mom has a cat that does this stuff all the time.
posted by thisisdrew at 3:29 PM on August 8, 2003

that was cool so much that i'm afraid to sleep underwater, but i have to ask completely off-topic: anyone else using mozilla having any problems loading multi-media plugins or secure-site issues, because every damn time i encounter one of these things i have to close down mozilla and run IE in order to view it... poopy is getting angry!
posted by poopy at 6:05 PM on August 8, 2003

The male Bathypolypus arcticus (foreground) sees the female and pounces on her. He mounts her and inserts his ligula into her mantle cavity.

whoa there, some of this stuff is NSFW :>
posted by rswst8 at 8:09 PM on August 8, 2003

If I was going to end up being thrown onto the ice at a hockey game, I'd develop some pretty amazing hiding skills too.
posted by debralee at 8:47 PM on August 8, 2003

1. Marquis, I applaud you. Rarely have I been both entertained and educated with such style. Thank you.

2. I saw an octopus up close off the coast of the Dominican Republic some years ago. It was fairly small and decidedly purple. I could have watched it for hours, but my partner stepped on a rockfish (with his fin) and we had to beat a fast retreat.

3. This is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Thanks, stefnet.
posted by swerve at 11:04 PM on August 8, 2003

it's too bad at the rate that things are going - the world's children won't have coral reefs - thanks to our (and previous generations) unsustainable population growth and lifestyle ... such a beautiful video and example of the wonder of diversity on our planet, yet a tragic reminder of how fast it is disappearing in lieu of bigger (certainly not better) things.
posted by specialk420 at 12:30 AM on August 9, 2003

That reminds me of an Onion article: Consumer-Product Diversity Now Exceeds Biodiversity
posted by homunculus at 10:52 AM on August 9, 2003

anyone else using mozilla having any problems loading multi-media plugins or secure-site issues

I'm not, although I had in the past in some previous versions. If worst comes to worse, try blowing away both your profile directory (be sure to back this up first so that you can retrieve your bookmarks) and the mozilla directory and reinstalling with the latest stable version.
posted by moonbiter at 1:45 PM on August 9, 2003

many thanks for the kind words. i was away camping for the weekend - don't get me started about my difficulties in making a campfire.
posted by Marquis at 6:30 AM on August 11, 2003

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