Tips for finding octopuses?

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#1
I'm going to be traveling to Bermuda this March for a week-long trip. As such I am desperate to try and see an octopus up close and in person. I've been passionate about cephs for years but have yet to see one in the wild! Any tips on how to spot octopuses? I already know to look out for their middens. Any other good advice?

Thanks in advance!
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
Staff member
Moderator
#2
GOOD question. Ceph wrote a piece on Octopus Eyes so I hope he will see the topic but if he doesn't, I will see if I can find the article.

As for my own experience, I have only seen one in the wild (St. Maarten) and did not locate him but the person that did noticed several fish sort of circling something but moving along the sand. It took him a few minutes to finally see what had interested the fish (the one I noticed continually harrassing the octo after being called over was an obstanant blue headed wrasse).

You might look through the Diving and Ceph Encounters forum for other ideas.


Edit:
I found one article, An Eye for an Octopus, that James wrote with Roland Anderson published in the November/December 2009 Reef Life magazine (sadly no longer in publication). It includes a short section entitled How, Where and When to Find an Octopus. I believe Thales was able to post his article somewhere after the magazine died but I don't know if this one. If you cannot find it on-line, PM me with an email address and I will see if I can scan it well enough to be able to read it.
 

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#3
DWhatley, thank you so much for the article! For anyone else looking at this thread, I couldn't figure out how to post the PDF but here are some notes I took that may be helpful for you. Note that these tips are NOT mine but come from Wood and Anderson's article. I take no claim except for any errors I made in note-taking:


Octopuses are found in most habitats.

Some species hide deep in a lair during the day, while others are diurnal, and still others are crepuscular.

In some places they can be found as easily as wading in shallow water at low tide.

Techniques:
search at night
most octopuses are nocturnal

develop search image for local species
look for color patterns, body patterns, etc.
search for your species of interest online to develop an idea of what they look like

seek out local knowledge about where to find octopuses
ask fellow divers, underwater photographers, local fishermen

search for their midden piles
look for clam, scallop, or crab shells (particularly fresh ones that do not have anything growing over them. You know they were killed recently. An octopus may be nearby)
some species have piles of coral rubble around their lairs rather than shells

look at likely lairs
octopuses will hide under rock ledges, crevices in rocks, shells, beer bottles, clay pots, etc.
good lairs can be used by multiple octopuses over the years, so if you found an octopus before, check at the same place again on your next visit.

When you find one, just stay still and watch.

Many will be scared away by direct light from a dive light.

Do not touch, grab, or physically harass!
 

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#4
Thanks so much for the advice! I ended up seeing three Octopus vulgaris and eleven squid! Not sure about the squid species... Anybody have any idea what species would be in small groups (3-8 individuals was the range I observed) inshore in ~0-1 m of water in Bermuda? I'm thinking Sepioteuthis sepoidea but I'm not sure. They were ~5-10 cm mantle length. This was in Whalebone Bay if anybody is familiar...

 

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DWhatley

Cthulhu
Staff member
Moderator
#5
Awsome!! Did the information help directly or just in general about looking slowly and closely (for the octos, the squid were just "there" I know). Were you snorkeling or diving?
 

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#6
The info was helpful in a number of specific ways! Thank you very much! I developed a search image, asked the locals, and looked for prospective den sites. I was amazed at how little they needed to hide! I found one that didn't need a hole to hide in at all, just a wall to melt into! So incredible! I was snorkeling.
 

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