PBS has released a fascinating video clip from an upcoming documentary which shows an octopus changing color multiple times in its sleep.
The sequence features in Octopus: Making Contact, which will premiere on October 2. The film focuses on marine biologist David Scheel from Alaska Pacific University as he raises and studies an octopus, known as “Heidi” in his home.
Over the course of the filming process, Scheel makes “remarkable discoveries” about the animal’s extraordinary intelligence, personality and skills, according to the producers.
The clip released by PBS begins with shots of Heidi in her tank, with Scheel narrating.
“Last night, I witnessed something I’ve never seen recorded before,” he says.
We are then shown images of Heidi sleeping upside-down while her skin rapidly switches between different colors. Scheel suggests the possibility that the animal is dreaming—although this has not been confirmed by research—while going on to speculate about what it is she could be thinking about.
“If she is dreaming, this is a dramatic moment,” Scheel said. “You could almost narrate the body changes and narrate the dream. She sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit, then she turns all dark, octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom [of the ocean.] This is a camoflage, like she’s just subdued a crab and she’s just going to sit there and eat it, and she doesn’t want anyone to notice her.”