Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Octopi rock.

(But can be taken out by a tiny damsel fish.)
(Which has got to suck.)

Of all the super-cool, amazing critters in the Caribbean waters of Curacao, the Caribbean Reef octopus has to be one of the coolest. 

SUPER hard to spot by recreational AND professional divers alike, octopus have an exceptional ability to suddenly change color and texture to blend in with their environment and escape predators - including other octopus and the most aggressive fish in our waters, the damsel*, whose attitude is a gazillion times larger than its body.

(*to date, the only marine critter to bite Suzy. Ever. Twice.)

The Caribbean Reef octopus has superlative cloaking skills any superhero would kill for - over and above those of their octopus relatives. 

That's because they possess more chromatophores (color-changing cells) than other types of octopus. Within seconds, they can flash an incredible range of hues from bright red to dark green to vivid blue, whilst simultaneously changing their skin texture from smooth through bumpy in the blink of an eye.

Not surprisingly, not much is known specifically about the Caribbean Reef octopus. Given their awesome cloaking techniques, the fact that they weigh an average of only 3 pounds and that they are noctornal hunters / feeders, the Caribbean Reef Octopus is even more difficult to study than it is to spot.

What is known is that, although very cool, they're not the most social of sea critters. They're fiercely protective of their personal lairs, fighting off other reef octopus that dare to venture too close, and scurrying away once they realise they've been spotted by ectastic scuba divers thrusting GoPros at them.

Speaking of which, check out this awesome GoPro video from Zoe at Tugboat just the other day:

The only time octopus play nicely with others is
mating time.

As with most males, when the mood is right, they engage in elaborate mating dances to entice the hot, sexy lady cephalopod that takes their fancy...

...The horny male darkens his entire body except for one arm, which he illuminates and waves around wildly. If this seems to be doing the trick, he moves slowly towards her, displaying a vivid array of different colors to further tempt her into mating with him...

(Somehow this is reminiscent of other species male-mating behaviour, right..?)

So it's official: octopi rock.  


Damsel fish still suck though. (Guess who wrote this Blog post.)

(Thanks to this website for octopus facts and congrats to Zoe for the awesome video, shot at Tugboat, Curacao, Jan-2015)