Volume 6 Number 1
Octopus in the Shallows
at Tori's Reef, Bonaire
The dive isn't over until it's over. I had just spent 40 minutes exploring Tori's Reef south of the city of Kralendijk on the island of Bonaire and was just about to get out of the water. Diving on Bonaire is often from shore, so you drive a car to the beach and then wade into the water wearing all of your scuba gear and carrying your camera. Tori's Reef has a nice rocky ledge for climbing down into the water, where the water is about 2 feet deep. I had swam back to this ledge and stood up to get out of the water. I was standing there talking to one of my dive buddies about the wonderful things we had seen, when ReefNews photographer Tessa Dowell swam up to join us. She was busy with her camera for a long time, then she stood up and said to us, "Oh, by the way, there is an Octopus down here." So, as fast as we could, we put our regulators back in our mouths and plunged back into the water!
This was the first big Octopus I had ever seen swimming around the reef. The Octopus was incredible. It would change colors as it swam, and then change into this mottled pattern of stripes and dots to blend in with the small rocks on the bottom.
This Octopus was about 18 inches from the top of its head to the tips of its tentacles. The undersides of its tentacles are covered with small suckers, each about the size of the eraser on a pencil, that it would use to hold on to the bottom or the rocks or shellfish that it can pick up and then crush with its jaws.
Based on observations of Octopuses playing with objects, scientists know that Octopuses are very intelligent. In fact, Octopuses are the only invertebrate animals (that is, animals without backbones) that are known to play.
Read all about the island of Bonaire on the ReefNews website, at
Did you notice the dark brown fish with black bars in this picture, just to the left of the Octopus? This fish is a Night Sergeant. It was about 5 inches long. Although it was not bigger than the Octopus's head, it was a lot closer to the camera in this picture. Notice its excellent camouflage as it blends in with the shadows among the rocks in the distance.
ReefNews photographer Jonathan Dowell took this photo using a Canon 10D digital camera with a Canon 28-105 mm zoom lens in an Ikelite housing with an Ikelite strobe.
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