Naughty octopus

Yesterday, 13th June while observing a group of four bottlenose dolphins in front of the island of Kalamos in the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago, one of the individuals of the group surprised us leaping out of the water with an unexpected guest attached to its belly (right on top of its genital slit!). For a selection of the best shots visit our gallery. Right on the spot we were not sure about what exactly was hanging from the dolphin’s belly; what was our surprise when we examined the photos and discovered that naughty octopus!

After this high leap, presumably executed to get rid of this intrusive octopus, the dolphin continued to swim with the other three members of its group without manifesting any signs of distress for during the rest of the sighting which went on for another two hours.



About Joan Gonzalvo

Joan Gonzalvo is the project manager and scientific coordinator of the Ionian Dolphin Project. He is a Catalan biologist whose main research interest is the conservation of the marine environment and, more specifically, the study and conservation of cetaceans.

52 Responses to “Naughty octopus”

  1. dolphinwhisper June 19, 2012 1:04 AM #

    Amazing, I have raised octopus from infant to adult, my guess this was a meeting of minds and the two were playing together, I think the octopus got the best of his intellectual friend, mama mia what a fabulous photo to catch, what a incredible encounter to witness, and it might just have been done for us, just perhaps there is a message from our dolphin friends to give octopus the respect they deserve for their brilliant minds and very short life. Scarlet Colley, dolphinwhisper

    • trellsmama June 21, 2012 5:24 PM #

      Just wondering can dolphins and octopus mate? what would they produce? This is just a thought!

  2. Catherine Anderson June 19, 2012 1:04 AM #

    Thank you for sharing this very interesting finding. My son and students were facinated with the picture and it created a wonderful writing opportunity!

    Ms. Anderson

  3. Dave June 19, 2012 1:10 AM #

    I probably would have jumped higher, if an Octopi had seized me in the nether Archipelago near Kalamos Island.

  4. Darlene Maurer June 19, 2012 1:46 AM #


    Glad to see you are still making history in Greece when it comes to the Bottlenose Dolphins. I enjoyed working with you as an Earthwatch volunteer in 2006. By the looks of your posted photos, it appears you may still have your four-legged companion, Possie.

  5. sharon June 19, 2012 1:48 AM #

    Well that octopus got that dolphin. good. Maybe the dolphin want to make a meal of it. And the octopus turned the tables. What a photo. that dolphin learned it’s lesson, not to under estmate a octopus it knows just how to get back at them and make it hurt. I am glad the dolphin is OK.
    But I do wonder IF that dolphin will remember that octopus and get the entire pod after it.

  6. Tony Diaz June 19, 2012 2:52 AM #

    Thanks for the photos and for all very good comments.

  7. ponkis June 19, 2012 3:43 AM #

    I had a small octopus attached to my left leg off the coast of Southern California, after I had fed it a piece of fish meat near its hide out; I didn’t realize it until a lady, back on the beach, noticed “something” stuck on my leg and asked what it was…..I gently returned it to the sea.

  8. oktapodi June 19, 2012 9:15 AM #

    octapus are very tasty in the Greece and as such maybe the dolphin was trying to dry it out as in Greece we dry the octapus out before we eat it. Also, because our dolphins are the best in the world, they fly higher and are trained much better since we are the best in dolphin training in the world even better than the america at sea world in san diego.

  9. Jennifer van der Greft June 19, 2012 10:33 AM #

    weeeeeehhhh hihihi, laughed the octopus!!!

    • Jennifer van der Greft June 19, 2012 10:55 AM #

      he just had a nice ride, peeking out of the water

  10. Angel June 19, 2012 12:02 PM #

    Hmmm, studying water mammals off the coast of Greece? Nice job if you can get it.

  11. Victoria Seeley June 19, 2012 1:34 PM #

    Ok, we know they are both intelligent creatures, could it be that the Octopus just wanted to see what was above the waters surface and the kind Dolphin took him/her to see the ‘wonder of it all’!

  12. Theresa Falke June 19, 2012 1:49 PM #

    Simply amazing! Thank you for sharing such wonderful pictures & all your work.

  13. Mark Small June 19, 2012 2:06 PM #

    You can’t fault that octopus for knowing how to have a good time!

  14. Artor June 19, 2012 3:04 PM #

    I’ve seen enough Hentai to know where this is going…

  15. Lora Hish June 19, 2012 3:35 PM #

    Fantastic find, Joan! Nice job and nice pics, as usual. Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear the octopus finally let go and the dolphin is ok. I hope all is well and things are improving in Amvrakikos. Didn’t know about this blog until I saw the story so now I can keep up with what’s going on in your part of the world. I hope I can get over there again for another 8 days! Take care, hope you are well.

    Lora Hish
    Denver, CO

  16. marta June 19, 2012 6:35 PM #

    Ohhh so great story.
    I wish I have a job like yours…. unfortunatelly I work in sales :-\
    Congrats for this great project.

  17. Glenn June 19, 2012 7:59 PM #

    “I may not be great to look at, but I am skilled at foreplay (or is it eight-play?),” said the octopus.

  18. Lylith June 20, 2012 3:43 AM #

    Amazing and beautiful images! You’re so lucky to have captured that moment. Thank you for sharing and I love your blog.

  19. Doug Landry June 21, 2012 6:53 AM #

    As Joan Gonzalvo postulated….this was likely a survival technique on the part of the Octopus after it was attacked by the dolphin…and the proximity of the dolphins genitalia was simply a coincidence. This lends credence to the famous cliche from “The Godfather”….”keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.

    I had a similar experience while night diving off of the island of Guanaja, Honduras in 1974. My dive buddy and I came across an adult octopus that was easily captured due to our blindingly bright dive lights. David had the bright idea of trying to “store” it inside the outer fabric of my buoyancy compensator which in those days had a zipper at the bottom and was mounted on my back between me and the scuba tank. He worked at this for over five minutes and then gave up…letting the octopus go. Had he succeeded, the octopus would have been crushed to death by the inner plastic bladder when I inflated to ascend to the surface. I really had no idea what he was doing at the time and thought that he was trying to fix something he felt was wrong with my equipment. Anyway…to get to the point, we surfaced and swam to the live-aboard yacht our group had chartered, removing our equipment in the water and letting the boat crew pull it aboard. This was when one of them screamed and tossed my gear back in the water. It seems that the octopus had decided to stay firmly suctioned to my scuba tank for the rest of our dive…a period of roughly 30 minutes. This story with the dolphin suggests that it had felt safer attached to me in a way that was beyond my reach.

    • Joan Laine June 22, 2012 5:55 AM #

      What an incredible story Doug and so heart warming – despite your buddy being quite thoughtless at the time

      • Doug Landry June 23, 2012 7:08 AM #

        Yeah…but in recalling that little tale, I began to remember several other misadventures that David and I had on that same trip. To be fair to him; who was older, wiser, and somewhat of a mentor, he showed a lot more common sense on those other occasions.

        I am glad you enjoyed reading it.

  20. Stephanie Niko June 21, 2012 3:24 PM #

    What an incredible story! I featured it on my blog and also told the story of my father and his “pet” octopus.

  21. Joan Laine June 22, 2012 5:57 AM #

    Incredible and what a privilege to have been in such a wonderful position to capture the images. Thanks for the sharing Joan Gonzalvo

  22. Daisy June 23, 2012 3:24 AM #

    Hmm… maybe the dolphin is the naughty one looking for a little octopussy!

  23. Rock June 23, 2012 3:02 PM #

    ^ hee hee, good insight and funny!

  24. Rock June 23, 2012 3:04 PM #

    @Daisy: hee hee, good insight and funny!

  25. Ivan June 23, 2012 3:06 PM #

    @Daisy: hee hee, good insight and funny!

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    Octopus is a ferocious water animal. But in the picture it is looking nice while attracting the Dolphin.

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