Scuba Diving Photos
Encounters: Eight-Legged Freaks!
Caribbean Reef Octopus
Caribbean Reef Octopus
The Caribbean reef octopus is among the most civilized cephalopods. Six species — including the Caribbean ocellate and long-armed octopuses — call Bonaire home, but it’s unlikely two species will be seen on the same dive thanks to their capacity to share. “They don’t overlap in time or space,” says Anderson. These time-share experts have divvied up hunting hours: Octopus briareus has dibs on the night — the darker the better. For best odds of encountering one, enter the water at or after midnight. Fin to sea-grass beds where the predator stalks crabs and slipper lobsters. Another tactic? Look for their dens. Besides the telltale pile of bivalves — this species is a glutton for anything on the half shell— Anderson advises to scout for smooth stones. Often a pile of golf-ball-size, algae- free rocks, used to barricade the entryway, mark an octopad. John Wall, director of Buddy Dive Resort’s photo center, suggests starting with Buddy’s house reef, home to three or four octopuses at any given time. His other hot spots include Salt Pier and along the reef’s edge at Something Special.
>WHEN TO GO Year-round
>OPERATORS Buddy Dive (buddydive.com) specializes in round-the-clock diving. Driveup tank fills and truck rentals let you set the schedule. Plaza Resort (plazaresortbonaire.com) also offers vehicle rental with its packages, which also include all meals.
>PRICE TAG A drive-and-dive seven-night package starts at $1,060, and includes unlimited shore diving, vehicle rental, daily breakfast and six boat dives per person. Plaza Resort’s weekly rates start at $1,250 per person based on double occupancy.
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.