Female Octopuses Hurl Junk At Males Who Can't Take A Hint

female octopuses throw things at male octopuses trying to mate
(fjdelvalle / Getty Images)

Australian scientists recently published a paper observing female octopuses that literally shoot debris at annoying male octopuses.

Let’s be real, who among us hasn’t fantasized about hurling a drink or other projectile at a particularly annoying dude who just won’t take the hint that you’re not interested? Seriously, sometimes it feels like we have to scream at the top of our lungs for some dudes to get that no, you’re not playing hard to get. While we don’t condone any type of violence or physical altercations in the human world, we can’t help but admire these female octopuses who have no patience and simply hurl things at males coming on too strongly.

According to the still-to-be-peer-reviewed In the Line of Fire: Debris Throwing by Wild Octopuses, researchers observed that “Wild octopuses at an Australian site frequently propel shells, silt, and algae through the water by releasing these materials from their arms while creating a forceful jet from the siphon held under the arm web.”

Scientists observed that female octopuses were more likely to do this than their male counterparts, and often, the female octopuses would fling debris at the male octopuses trying to get it on with them. Two of the female octopuses were real champs, accounting for 67 of the 102 ‘throws’ observed.

“Throwing in general is more often seen by females, and we have seen only one hit (a marginal one) from a throw by a male. Octopuses who were hit included other females in nearby dens, and males who have been attempting mating with a female thrower,” the study reads.

Some scientists believe this debris-hurling isn’t new or targeted behavior.

Some researchers, like Jennifer Mather, an octopus expert at Canada’s University of Lethbridge, thinks the octopuses weren’t throwing debris as much as they were jetting water at nuisances, male or otherwise. “If they were throwing, they would pick stuff up with their arms and throw it,” Mather told Vox. Loads of animals fling and hurl debris and even feces at each other as a means of defense, trapping prey, or to threaten another animal, so it makes sense that octopuses would also fall under this umbrella.

Still, octopuses are known to be incredibly smart, agile, and bendy in ways that seem to defy the laws of physics, so it doesn’t seem all that wild to think that there might be a reason behind the lady-octopus-debris-fling. Even if it turns out the researchers’ findings are coincidental, or primarily fueled by humanity’s desire to anthropomorphize every creature, we can’t help but imagine that these female octopuses are actually being sassy as hell when they shoot algae and slit at male octopuses making an unwelcome pass.