It was hard not to laugh underwater and flood your [scuba] mask,” says biologist Mark Norman who, together with fellow researchers from Melbourne’s Museum Victoria, photographed an octopus crawling along the ocean floor off the coast of Indonesia with two coconut shell halves suctioned to its underside.

After finishing its journey, the octopus reassembled the coconut and squeezed itself into its homemade and very well camouflaged hiding spot.

The Australian research team also encountered 20 veined octopuses carrying coconut shells nearly twice as big as their 8 cm bodies.

Using tools is generally regarded as a sign of mental sophistication and octopuses are considered to be among the most ingenious creatures on the planet. They are the only invertebrates which have been conclusively shown to use tools, and research involving maze and problem-solving tasks has unveiled that they have both short- and long term memory.

When kept in captivity, octopuses often manage to sneak out of their tanks, e.g. to get to a nearby aquarium and devour its inhabitants at night. They are also known to board fishing boats in search of food and can open up holds to get to the cargo.

Their restricted lifespans limit the amount they can ultimately learn; some species live for at little as six months while others are known to reach an age of five years in ideal conditions. The males die within a few months after mating and the females pass away shortly after seeing their eggs hatch.

In some countries, octopuses are afforded legal protection not extended to other invertebrates and it may for instance be illegal for researchers to perform surgery on them without anaesthesia.