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The octopus is one of the most intelligent, versatile invertebrates known. Their ability to present themselves in a stature of complete magnificence then melting into the semblence of a thick liquid, shape shifting and changing colors to match any surroundings and oozing into any available crevice qualifies them to be the ultimate transformers.






As masters of camoflage, their abilty to blend and seemingly melt in with their surroundings both in color patterns, shape and texture, makes them incredibly hard to spot unless you have the patience to lie very still for a time scanning your surroundings for a coral head that suddenly seems to move slightly.

Finding their "houses" can be a bit more difficult, which is usually a little hole that they will cover the entrance of with bits of available rubble. A tattle-tell sign can be a mound of fresh broken shells from a recent feast left outside their "door".






This octopus is in the process of turning as pale and bumpy as the surroundining environment, as he appears to glide across the terrain in search of refuge while keepng an eye on my camera and me. camo


I have found that their curiousity can easily get the better of them. One afternoon I had just finished leading a tour and after making sure everyone was back on board I decided to check the anchor and hang out under the boat for a little while just kind of floating in place a few feet off the bottom enjoying the weightlessness and scanning my surroundings.

About 30 or 40 feet away I noticed the top of a large coral head slowly start to "grow" about a foot taller so I decided I'd spend the rest of my air checking out this octopus.

Naturally as I approached, she "melted" back into the crevice in the top of the coral head so I crouched down at the base of it and waited a couple of minutes. When I raised my head to have a look, there was the top of the octopus' head looking at me with her two strange eyes and then she sunk back down into the safety of her space, so I did the same.

This went on for some time; each time revealing more and more of herself. I just copied her actions, sinking down no more or less than she did until finally we were both completely visible to each other only a couple of feet apart looing each other over. A short time later it was time for me to head back to the boat and as I looked over my shoulder she was still raised up in a big capital "A" shape watching me go.

Mind you, my hide-and-seek act was not a quiet one. I do have to make my "Darth Vadar" breathing sounds, blowing bubbles to the surface every so often. I'm only human. Although octopi are deaf, their vision is quite keen. So I would have to say that they are indeed very curious cephalopods.



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When handling them it is pretty much futile to try and pull an octopus off you once it has become attached. This little guy is just about to jetison itself from calm diver, Bob Weir's head. You can still see remnants of its ink cloud. I could call the following paragraph "How To Remove An Octopus 101" but the truth is you must let them remove themselves.



The more one tries to pull, the more the octopus feels its security is being threatened and the tighter their grip becomes. The best course of action is to just hold still or sidle up to a rock or coral head which they much prefer to humans.

I was in a situation once while photographing a rather large one at a depth of about 70 feet. I had become quite entangled with him. He had tentacles wrapped around me, my camera & strobe and my regulator. Since I had a back up air source I wasn't too concerned abut the regulator, but I was foolishly trying to get my framer back from him after he pulled it off the camera. Then I noticed one of my fins had come off as it floated by my head on its way to the surface. Deciding that I would be much more hampered without the fin than the piece of camera gear I began a slow accent to retrieve it. As soon as I stopped focusing on him and my framer and began to move upwards, he let go and took off.





We always have people remove their gloves when handling them so as not to be abrasive to their silky feeling mantle. Though they have a "beak" which is located under the head where the tentacles stem out from, capable of crushing shells to get at the meat inside, I have never been bit nor been on a dive where anyone else has.

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When they choose to move through open water from one area to another they jet propel themselves by intaking water and forcibly blowing it through a funnel as they contract their muscles. This does limit their movement to short, but quick bursts in a singular, head first direction; though with the addition of their famous ink cloud, which serves to hide their movements and temporarily ruin the sense of smell of potetial preditors such as eels, they can usually make good their escape.


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