Octopus

A day octopus and saddle wrasseA day octopus and saddle wrasseIt’s exciting to see an octopus. They’re extremely hard to spot. If it’s not moving, chances are I won’t see it at all. The reason for this is that the octopus is a master of changing color and texture to match its background.

I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few, once three in one swim. But sometimes there are weeks between sightings. As for photos, the good news is that when I spot an octopus it rarely moves, meaning I have time to get a photo. The bad news is that they blend in so well I invariably end up with offerings where I have to say something like, “It’s right there, near that coral. No, that’s not a rock.”

On this occasion, I spotted movement just before the octopus dipped into a crack in the rock and changed color. We then began a little pas de deux. When I drifted away, the octopus eased up onto the rock. If I closed in again, it slipped back into the crack. The nice thing, from my point of view, was that when it was on the rock it stood out about as well as it was ever going to against a fairly plain background.

I believe this is a day octopus. They’re active during the day and one most commonly seen around here. The passing fish are saddle wrasse.

In my attempts to identify what I see in the water, I use John P. Hoover’s book The Ultimate Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Seals. His website is hawaiisfishes.com.

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