Speeds and variation in body form during crawling, bipedal walking, swimming and jetting by the shallow-water octopus Abdopus aculeatus were compared to explore possible interactions between defense behaviors and biomechanics of these multi-limbed organisms. General body postures and patterns were more complex and varied during the slow mode of crawling than during fast escape maneuvers such as swimming and jetting. These results may reflect a trade-off between predator deception and speed, or simply a need to reduce drag during jet-propelled locomotion. Octopuses swam faster when dorsoventrally compressed, a form that may generate lift, than when swimming in the head-raised posture. Bipedal locomotion proceeded as fast as swimming and can be considered a form of fast escape (secondary defense) that also incorporates elements of crypsis and polyphenism (primary defenses). Body postures during walking suggested the use of both static and dynamic stability. Absolute speed was not correlated with body mass in any mode. Based on these findings the implications for defense behaviors such as escape from predation, aggression, and `flatfish mimicry' performed by A. aculeatus and other octopuses are discussed.
- © The Company of Biologists Limited 2006