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Friday, October 30, 2009

Sea Things #21: Common Octopus

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

In the Caribbean, there are a couple of different types of octopi. We call them "daytime octopi" and "nighttime octopi." Do I really need to explain the difference? Well, one you only see during the day and one you see at night. So, today we're talking about the daytime kind and that is the Common Octopus, or Octopus vulgaris. Now, let's be honest here, if you were an octopus, would you rather be called a Common Octopus or an Octopus vulgaris? Hmm?

So, people kinda know about octopi. They have 8 legs, etc. They eat other mollusks, such as clams and scallops. Like squid, they change color in order to blend in with their surroundings. I thought about what a diver hand signal would be for an octopus, I don't know that I know of one. I think Todd has told me what it is before, but I usually end up just pointing. But, then again, I've never found an octopus myself either.

We've had a few instances of seeing a Common Octopus underwater. The first was in Little Cayman in July 2007. Chef Ron was with us on the boat, and we looked over towards where he was in the shallows at the end of the dive, and there he was with an octopus! We came over and spent a good bit of time with him. As it turns out, octopus do not mind being touched. We went ahead and touched him and he hung out and let us pet him.

We saw another octopus out in the open (the one pictured here) in July 2009. Todd spotted this one, and he had been camouflaged enough that many other divers had passed him during that same dive and not spotted him. Todd got some great photos, and again we were able to pet him.

There was another octopus that we saw in Bonaire in the spring. It was right outside of our hotel on the house reef, and only his eye and a couple of suckers could be seen in this tiny little hole. Todd happened to spot him, but since he was cornered, I didn't feel comfortable touching him (others we'd touched were out in the open and could swim away if they'd wanted to). I don't ever like putting animals in a position where it will stress them out.

There are a lot more interesting things about octopi. I would try and check out the Amazing Octopus on the Science Channel if you can. We watched it the other night and it was pretty fascinating.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

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