This MacGyver meets 007 maneuver was filmed by divers exploring a marine forest for Blue Planet II.
The ocean is so wildly vast and mysterious. There is just so much we don't know about it; so many creatures we have yet to meet and may, in fact, never know at all. But even amongst the animals that we are familiar with, many of them have surprises that should constantly be inspiring us to rethink how we think about the animal world.
Case in point: This octopus.
The she-cephalopod was filmed by the Blue Planet II crew as they were exploring the inky depths in South Africa, focusing on the magical world of marine forests. As series producer Mark Brownlow explains, “We may think of our ocean’s as blue but there is another surprising world of the Green Seas. From towering undersea forests of giant kelp to vast prairies of sea grass, this is an almost Brothers Grimm fairy tale of all the strange and magical creatures that live within these secret worlds. Here sea dragons lurk, bizarre giant cuttlefish breed, and an ingenious octopus outwits a forest full of sharks.”
Our tale of clever derring-do begins when a hungry pyjama shark goes to attack the octopus, who quickly inserts its tentacles into the shark's gills in an effort to suffocate it. Shark lets go; octopus skedaddles.
But then she does something truly remarkable, and something never before seen (by humans, at least). As the show’s narrator, Sir David Attenborough, says: “The octopus is far from finished."
Caught in the open, she scrambles to the seafloor, attaches shells to her body with her suckers, and rolls up into a beautiful mosaic ball. The shark is left confused and by the time it seems to figure out what is going on, the octopus darts away, leaving the shark looking for her in the scattered detritus of her ersatz armor.
You can see some of the action in the short clip below; so many wonders beneath the sea and so much we will never know. But in the meantime, we can at least appreciate a quick-thinking cephalopod and her better-than-Kevlar coat of shells.