Australian scientists took diving gear and underwater video cameras to the waters of Indonesia from 1998 to 2008. They swam along with octopuses to see what they could learn. They observed a surprising use of tools by these invertebrates. The veined octopus in this video built its undersea shelter from coconut shells that humans cut in half, hollowed out, and tossed into the muddy ocean. To collect the shells, the octopus has eight muscular tentacles to reach and grab with and to walk on. It uses its tentacles to twist and turn the shell until it's free from the mud. Then it flips the coconut shell over so that the open side faces up, like a bowl. To get the mud out, it has powerful muscles that shoot jets of water into the bowl. Finally, after lowering its tentacles around the shell, it uses some of them to lift it and others to carry it off. The octopus looks as if it's walking on tiptoes as it scurries away with its treasure!

Julian Finn/Museum Victoria