Behaviour and body patterns of Octopus vulgaris facing a baited trap: first-capture assessment
Keywords:common octopus, skin displays, ethology, personality, vulnerability, fisheries management
This study highlights for the first time individual differences in ethology and vulnerability of Octopus vulgaris (i.e. body postures, movements and skin displays) facing passive baited traps. Common octopus exposed to a baited trap during three consecutive first-capture tests exhibited diverse behavioural and body pattern sequences resembling when the octopus searches for and hunts its wild prey. Overall, they first visually recognized new objects or potential preys and rapidly moved out of the den, exploring, grabbing and approaching the trap with the arms (chemotactile exploration), and capturing the bait with the arms and feeding on top over long periods inside the trap. Simultaneously, O. vulgaris displayed diverse skin textural and chromatic signs, the regular pattern being the most frequent and long-lasting, followed by broad mottle, passing cloud and dark patterns. All individuals (n=8) caught the bait at least once, although only five octopuses (62.5%) entered the trap in all three tests. In addition, high variability among individuals was observed regarding behaviour and body patterns during the first-capture tests, which might evidence different individual temperaments or life-history traits. Differences in behavioural responses at individual level might have population consequences due to fisheries-induced selection, although there is a high necessity to assess how behavioural traits might play an important role in life-history traits of this species harvested by small-scale trap fisheries.
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