Two scuba divers were surprised by an eight-foot Pacific octopus earlier this month when they participated in an excursion off of Bluefish Cove in Carmel, CA. The giant sea creature caught the men off-guard, but did not pose any danger to them.
The diving partners came across what appeared to be a rock at first. In fact, it was a resting giant Pacific octopus that was perfectly camouflaged in the reef. The creatures are highly intelligent and are perceived as somewhat sneaky. This unsuspecting octopus was startled and began wrestling with the camera. First it reached out for the camera with just one arm, then it lunged at it with its entire body.
The men were slightly concerned at first, but knowing that it was harmless, their bigger concern was catching the creature on camera. They wanted bragging rights for having encountered the octopus, which was a rare find in the 80-foot-deep water they were scuba diving in.
The divers, David Malvestuto (34) and Warren Murray (56) encountered the sea creature in early February. Murray is a professional scuba diver and underwater photographer. The octopus was unaware of their presence in the water at first. He and Malvestuto think that the octopus saw its own reflection in the camera lens that Murray was holding out in front of him and thought it was in danger. Startled, it awakened and reached out toward the camera.
The divers were able to get a few pictures of the octopus before it released Murray. Though at one point it had Murray entangled and was wrapped around his arms, it did not harm him. The scuba divers think that when Murray took a photo of the octopus, the flash scared it off and he fell back into the shadows of the ocean.
A giant Pacific octopus can be as long as 16 feet and weight as much as 110 pounds. The average lifespan of the camelion-like sea creature is three to five years. They swim the northern Pacific Ocean and cab be found anywhere from California and Alaska to China and Japan.
Octopus eat mostly shrimp, crabs and lobster, which they hunt for at night. Their eight arms are lined with approximately 2,000 suction cups that enhance their ability to smell and grasp their prey. They paralyze their victims by injection compounds into them so they can return to their cave to relax and devour their meal. Their sharp beaks help them tear the flesh from the animals.
Predators of the octopus include sea otters, sperm whales, some sharks and fisherman. Though they occasionally set their eyes on a bird or a shark, they generally steer clear of people, as long it does not feel like they are being attacked.
Malvestuto and Murray were fascinated by their brief encounter with the octopus. The divers knew that the creature meant no harm and found the encounter exciting. The divers never had any doubt that the octopus was safe and now they have bragging rights, photos and a video to show for their entanglement with the octopus. It is not a scuba diving trip either of them will soon forget.
By Tracy Rose