Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Day 8. Finally. After having spent the past 150 dives searching, ever conscious that they are highly camouflaged and probably lurking nearby, I have finally, finally seen an octopus.

My buddies have seen two already on this trip, both on dives that I was scheduled to do and then didn’t (one because I had a headache, the other because I wasn’t comfortable with the dive guide). Heike came back with pictures of a tiny little one, and then Marion snapped the fist-sized blue-ringed one this afternoon. Mine was spotted on a night dive that I nearly didn’t do because it was pouring with rain, the sea was choppy, and all but one other diver had cancelled. However, the other guy is going back to the UK tomorrow and he’d never done a night dive, so it was on. I went mostly because I had said I would go.

Was I glad I did. At first we saw a whole lot of nothing. We went in over the sand and there wasn’t much to see. I was thinking “Ick – I could be back in the bar instead of here swimming through jellyfish.” But then we hit the reef.

I think I am, in essence, a muck diver. Give me a little piece of reef on a night dive and I’ll stay in about 10 m square for the whole dive, peering under everything and watching the fish sleep. And I saw some great stuff once we hit the reef: two frogfish, a scorpionfish, a free-swimming starfish, and a rather rare decorator crab (wearing hot pink sponge), along with the usual assorted lionfish, cleaner wrasse, marching urchins and various crustaceans. However, our guide, Ruben, was a bit of a torpedo, so we did a lot of swimming and casual looking instead of staying put. I decided to assert myself a bit and stopped on a piece of reef that had a magnificent black and white cowrie clinging to it when Ruben started frantically flailing around with his light several meters away. When you dive at night and someone violently swings his light at you, you go to him as quickly as you can. You never know whether he is in trouble, and the usual bogeys of diving are increased when it’s dark. So I took off like lightning and caught up with him, ready to assist in saving him from some disaster. Then he redirected the light to a red blob in some coral. I looked and looked again, but couldn’t figure out what it was I was supposed to see, and was a bit miffed that I’d chased over there to find there was no big emergency. And then the blob unfolded a tentacle and started sliding toward the sand. A hungry octopus, looking for a meal.

Its head and curled body were about the size of a dinner plate, and it seemed to move mostly by unfolding itself a leg or two at a time, inching its way across the sand first to one coral head and then the next. As it curled in one leg it unwound another, moving very slowly, wasting no motion. Definitely stealth design. It was clearly not intimidated by us, since it didn’t bother to change colors as we hovered over it. It stayed a mottled red, so it was brilliantly lit up against the sand. I could see it pulsate, like some Hollywood alien. After about six minutes my buddy was clearly bored, so we carried on with the dive. Given the choice, I’d have stayed there until my tank was dry.

What a magnificent creature. We’ll dive the same site tomorrow night, and maybe this time I won’t leave my camera on the boat. Sigh.

Day 11. Update. Octopus #2, big and black and beautiful on the Boulders in Puerto Galera. This time I had my camera, but he just looked like a big black leather bag on film. Oh well.

(Photo: Marion’s blue-ringed octopus. The tentacles are the bunched up blue and green circles and, if you look at about “8:00” from the tip of the pointer, you’ll see its eye. See what I mean by camouflage?)


Blogger nzm said...

Where octopus are concerned, you and J would do well diving together.

She'd blow all her air staying around them too!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Grumpy Goat said...

Yay! Success at last! Don't use them all up; I want to see some cephalopods, and whale sharks and mantas and...and... in the Similans next week.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoying it right along with you.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Mme Cyn said...

Anon-- if you're someone I know, PLEASE end your post with a name!

8:07 AM  
Blogger MamaDuck said...

After reading all this, I have a new respect for divers. Good grief. I loved my one, fifteen-minute, tourist dive for the freedom, and silence, and otherness of it all, but nothing -nothing - could induce me to do String 101. Equipment, snaggy bits, physical co-ordination and maths?! Open water for me, if I ever get the chance to do this!You are so brave. How wonderful that you saw your octopus. Yay Mme Cyn! I don't know how you find time to blog, but this armchair adventurer is very glad you do. xoxox

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like mommaduck, much enjoy lurking in your blog and keeping up with your adventures, while I slave away back in the land of sand. However, the mighty grumpy one said I should comment, so . . . an octopus, way cool.

1:06 PM  

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