With each passing year, scientists learn more and more about some of the most intelligent animals on our planet. No, we’re not talking about primates here—it’s the octopus. These incredible sea creatures have stunned researchers for decades with their exploits, pulling levers to get food, stacking rocks to hide their dens, escaping from aquarium tanks, and using tools to lure and kill their prey. But what’s really special about these cephalopods is their personality.
Researchers who have spent lots of time with them have described them as playful, clever, mischievous, and even rebellious. An incredible video from Singapore captured in 2013 shows that these amazing creatures can even be thankful!
The video was taken by Heng Pei Yan, an educator, scuba diver, and nature guide who is from Singapore. In August 2013, Heng was exploring the Cyrene Reef, a coral reef ecosystem full of rare seagrass that provides life for astounding marine creatures, right in the middle of Singapore’s harbor, one of the busiest in the entire world.
The reef area is shallow, which makes it perfect for naturalists like Heng to observe marine life up close but also means animals can be stranded when the tides change. That’s exactly what happened one day in August 2013, when Heng found a beautiful little octopus stuck on a sandbar. Apparently, the creature hadn’t been able to get out to deeper water in time.
While octopuses can survive for short periods of time out of the water, and even crawl across land to get from one body of water to another, this little guy was in danger of asphyxiating as his gills couldn’t process the air above the surface.
Heng started shooting the video as she picked the octopus up with a cup and took him over to the water. The octopus is clearly distressed by his time out of water, expanding and contracting as he desperately tries to breathe. Once in the water, however, his breathing slows to become more regular, and he even changes colors!
What happened next was what really took Heng, and the over 12 million people who have viewed her video, by surprise!
At first, the octopus just gets used to being back in the water, but after a few seconds, he swims over to where Heng is standing and does the most heartbreaking thing you could imagine. He puts one of his little tentacles on her water boots, as if to “show appreciation” for saving his life.
As Heng posted on Facebook, “even animals are grateful when you help them.” After lingering for a few seconds, the octopus went on its way, leaving Heng touched and amazed.
In case anyone thought this was an isolated incident, a year later at Soma Bay on the Red Sea in Egypt, a visiting couple rescued an octopus that was stranded by the tides just as in Singapore. When they came back to the same spot the next day to check on the octopus, it approached them, also seemingly to say thank you.
They posted a video of it on YouTube hanging out with them. As they wrote in their video, “he stayed with us for about an hour, and wanted to touch us all the time.”
Just goes to show that little gratitude can go a long way!
Even animals are grateful when you help them. A stranded octopus showed appreciation when I shifted it to shallow water.