Octopus

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Enteroctopus dofleini arm sliding out of its den.  We typically find octopus by looking for midden heaps, piles of shells leftover from the octopus’ meals.

Octopus sightings seem to be getting more and more common.  This one hangs out under a boulder at Neck Point.  Megan Cook, the 2012 North American Rolex Scholar, joined us for a few days of diving and snapped these photos.

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The giant pacific octopus feeds on all kinds of prey, from the red rock crabs and clams seen in these photos, to dogfish sharks and seagulls.

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Octopus are well known for their ability to change colors.  This one is showing a lot of white, which may mean that it’s scared or upset at our presence or the flash of the camera.

This octopus (or at least the den) has been here for some time.  Tim Dwyer got this excellent video in September 2011.  Near the end of the video watch for a rapid skin color and texture change as it leaps into its den.

For as large as they are, giant pacific octopus do not live very long – only 3-5 years.  After mating, females lay a cluster of eggs in their den and stop feeding.  They spend all of their time guarding the eggs and pumping water through them to keep the developing larvae oxygenated.  By the time the larvae hatch the female has used up all of her energy reserves, and dies.

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