Octopuses found to be hitting fish out of spite

It's been revealed octopus are the bullies of the ocean after researchers discovered they like to punch fish for no reason other than spitefulness. 

In a paper for scientific journal Ecology, researchers released footage of the octopus jabs and explained the phenomenon.

They say octopus often team up with fish when it comes to hunting, giving the fish a quick quack when they prove physically bothersome towards the octopus, for example, getting in the way of prey. 

"These multiple  observations  involving  different  octopuses  in  different  locations  suggest  that  punching serves  a  concrete  purpose  in  interspecific  interactions."

For the octopus this serves as a way to control the fish, moving it away in one easy explosive motion. 

But researchers have found the punches are not always followed by an attempt to nab some prey or to fling the fish away.

In fact, they found octopus enjoy taking aim at their fish buddies for seemingly no reason at all.

Researchers observed octopuses lashing out at the fish when they weren't affecting its ability to hunt prey or getting in its way.

"In these cases, two different theoretical scenarios are possible," researchers explained.

"In the first one, benefits  are  disregarded  entirely  by  the  octopus,  and  punching  is  a  spiteful  behaviour,  used  to impose a cost on the fish." 

In the second theoretical scenario, the punching may be a form of aggression with "delayed benefits."

In other words, the octopus may be punishing a misbehaving fish to promote more "collaborative" behaviour in the future, or just because they felt like it.