Octopus on the pipeline

Sea life: Octopus

Octopus are among my favourite creatures. I love the way they move, their colour changes, and how smart they are. We find lots of them at Long Beach – many of them live in holes on the pipeline, and others we can spot by the shells surrounding their burrows in the sand. Some of these structures are quite elaborate, with the walls of the hole lined with clam and mussel shells.

Octopus at Long Beach
Octopus in his hole at Long Beach. The reddish brown is an angry colour.

We usually see the eyes of the octopus first, watching us as we approach his lair.  If they feel threatened, they extrude little spiny protrusions on their heads, and can change colour rapidly.

Octopus on the pipeline
Tony took this picture of an octopus on the pipeline

This past week Tony and Kate met one at Long Beach who was all tangled up in kelp, and clearly thought he was sufficiently well camouflaged that even when the ball of kelp was resting on Tony’s glove, his disguise was safe.

Octopus hiding in the pipeline at Long Beach
Octopus hiding in the pipeline at Long Beach

We don’t often spot them in the open water, but on one dive at A Frame (no cameras handy unfortunately) we saw a huge octopus spread out like a dinner plate on a rock. His tentacles were arranged curling around his head. Probably eating something! He was totally unfazed by us – we touched the edge of his suckers, which were holding on tight, and he even let me stroke his skin, which felt much softer than I expected.

Octopus are ridiculously intelligent and can fit through the smallest spaces. I never get tired of them, and when we are lucky enough to see one swimming around, I am always amazed by their graceful way of moving. In Sodwana, Tami spotted a large blue one “walking” along the reef – so they’re not just limited to swimming!

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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