If you spend a little time watching octopuses, you’ll quickly learn that they’re smarter than they look. Or rather, you would learn that, if the octopuses would let you film them. But, as researchers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) discovered, they’d much rather disassemble your underwater camera and make off with the bait inside.

Here, you can see the octopus remove three cable ties to get to the camera’s bait canister, while casually swatting away a pyjama shark that’s nosing too close to its prize. (The real action starts around 1:00.)

[vimeo 44791802]

UCT’s baited cameras are designed to attract sea life, to give researchers a picture of the health of underwater ecosystems. They’re usually quite effective, bringing seals, sharks, and endangered fish into the camera’s range. But this octopus had the bait canister off in under a minute, and then — just to add insult to injury — some of its octopus buddies stole bits of the camera equipment. Apparently these guys are not fans of the surveillance state.

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