First there was the infamous woodpecker-riding weasel, and then the regal shrimp with its glorious nudibranch steed (and let's not forget that genet hitchhiker). And now, courtesy of NatureFootage, we have this amazing clip of an octopus evading an attack from a hungry moray eel ... by riding it, rodeo-style.

Cephalopods are already famed for their intelligence, their mind-blowing rapid camouflage and their talents for the art of escape. (Just last week, Inky the octopus had us cheering his freedom when he slipped out of his tank at a New Zealand aquarium!) And it seems outwitting predatory eels is also within their tentacled abilities.

This underwater rodeo was caught on camera by NatureFootage contributor Harrison Stubbs in the waters off Guadalupe Island, and at first glance, you may wonder which of the animals is doing the attacking. Could it be that this overambitious octopus is taking on something ten times its size? We doubt it. Despite their guile, octopuses are still vulnerable to attack by larger predators, and the far more likely scenario here is that the moray eel is the aggressor. The animals are voracious hunters and have even been known to co-operate on hunts with other predatory species, such as groupers.

We may never know exactly how the octopus landed up in its lucky seat just out of range of the snapping jaws, but this rider does seem to pick the perfect moment to let go and make its escape. As it jets off into the safety of the shadowy caves, the eel is left disoriented in a cloud of dark ink, ruing the meal that might have been.

But clinging to the back of a moray eel's head is no guarantee of safety. The fish have a special coiling trick to take care of anything that might be biting them or hanging on. The twisting movement can generate enough power to break bones, as the smaller of these two eels discovers:

Octopus And Crab Related 2015 09 11


Top header image: Simen S, Flickr