Featured Image Credit: MUCRU Megan Franklin Rei
By Lindsay Edgar
Predator-prey relationships are dynamic and complicated. They are a complex part of nature that keeps the food chain connected. Sometimes, it’s a lion stalking a gazelle, or a Great White performing a sneak-attack on an unsuspecting seal. In most cases, after a small struggle (the animal wants to live, after all), the prey is quite easy for the predator to take down.
But what happens if the prey puts up a larger fight? One where the hunter could actually be the fatality?
In 2015, an adult male bottlenose dolphin was found dead on a beach in Bunbury, southwest Australia. It is not uncommon to find deceased marine life on the beach but there was a surprising twist in the case. Upon investigation of the dolphin, a long arm dotted with small suction cups poked through its mouth. A veterinary pathologist determined the otherwise healthy dolphin’s cause of death to be suffocation. The dolphin had choked to death on its dinner – a large octopus.
For those who just gave a silent cheer for the underdog, here are some interesting facts as to why the octopus won the battle. The arms of some species grow to be almost a meter long. To make matters a little tricky, they have eight! The suction-cup suckers on the underside of their arms are quite powerful and they use them to latch on to their attackers. And like zombies, they continue to work long after the octopus is dead.
But the dolphins aren’t stopped that easily. They need to eat to survive. So they have developed special techniques to conquer their next meal. According to one study published in Marine Mammal Science, dolphins were seen repeatedly slapping and flicking an octopus against the surface of the water. The behavior likely wore down the prey’s reflexes.
The feeding behavior shown by the dolphins proves that they will do anything for that next meal. Bon A petit!