Scuba Diving Photos
Encounters: Eight-Legged Freaks!
Giant Pacific Octopus
Giant Pacific Octopus
Puget Sound, Washington
A much-shared YouTube clip proves the giant Pacific octopus’ death grip: First it robs Victor Huang of his video camera, trading it for his spear gun before finally retreating. The power of the world’s largest octopus species is indisputable. Them largest scientist-recorded Enteroctopus dofleini weighed approximately 150 pounds and measured 20 feet across, arm tip to arm tip. Anderson suggests sticking to depths between 40 and 90 feet and looking for the rubble pile, also called a midden, of discarded Dungeness and red rock-crab shells. The species is crepuscular, so dive at dawn or dusk. If you’re feeling daring, Anderson suggests offering a crab or scuttling a bit with your fingers in front of the den to arouse its curiosity. Divers will be able to find the species throughout Puget Sound. One of the easiest sites, reachable from shore, is Elliott Bay near the Seattle Aquarium. Hood Canal is another wildly popular area for prolific sightings. Photographers have even captured images of females guarding hundreds of thousands of eggs.
>WHEN TO GO Winter is the best season for giant Pacific octopus due to better visibility.
>OPERATORS Pacific Adventure Dive Charters (pacadventure.com), based in the Pleasant Harbor Marina in Brinnon, Washington — a 90-minute drive from Olympia — offers charters aboard its 38-foot-long, heavily modified dive boat to sites in Hood Canal, such as Black Point and Rosie’s Ravine. Post-dive, you can warm up with a hot shower aboard the boat.
>PRICE TAG Two-tank dive trips cost $80, and include snacks, hot beverages and soup.
Due to their keen camouflage tricks and seeming ability to outsmart us, octopuses fascinate divers. The hunt is only the beginning: We scan reef and rubble for tentacles and shell piles, occasionally rewarded with an opportunity to discover this animal’s reactions. Will we be deceived, or do we give octopuses too much credit? After all, points out Dr. Roland Anderson, a retired Seattle Aquarium biologist, “How smart can a cousin of the clam be?”
FIVE OCTO FACTS
1 Giant Pacific octopuses, which grow to eight feet in length and weigh 100 pounds, can wiggle their bodies through a baseball-size opening.
2 Octopuses can be trained visually to run mazes, even making detours when a new food source appears.
3 Every inch of an octopus’ skin tastes what it touches.
4 Octopuses quickly learn to recognize individuals. At the New England Aquarium, a giant Pacific octopus named Truman took a dislike to a female volunteer, using his siphon to squirt a stream of water at her each time she entered the room.
5 Germans rallied behind Paul the Octopus each time he predicted a win for the national team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but when he chose Spain as the victors, livid fans hungered for sushi justice.