The giant Pacific octopus is shy and elusive, so it stands to reason that the mysterious sea creatures do not appreciate being photographed with flashing strobes.
The accompanying footage, captured recently off Carmel in Central California, shows an octopus estimated to measure 20 feet across leaving its rock and wrapping its slithery tentacles around an expensive camera unit operated by Warren Murray.
David Malvestuto, Murray’s diving companion, videotaped the brief wrestling match at a depth of 80 feet in Bluefish Cove off Point Lobos, just south of Monterey.
Murray, not wanting to lose his gear, held firmly and backed away, while continuing to shoot photographs. (The video footage shows some of the still images retrieved from Murray’s camera.)
Finally, the octopus released its grip, swam slowly toward the bottom and blended perfectly into the rocky habitat.
This extraordinary encounter involved a creature that is a master of camouflage, capable of changing colors to match its surroundings.
“My fellow divers are jealous and envious,” Murray told KSBW. “My non-diving friends asked, ‘Weren’t you scared?’ For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Giant Pacific octopuses can measure nearly 30 feet across and weigh to about 600 pounds. They do not possess bones, so they can squeeze into tiny crevices.
Their eight arms are lined with powerful suction cups, and their sharp beak is used for crushing the shells of prey items, such as crabs and clams.
The animals are considered to be intelligent and captive specimens can open jars and solve other puzzles used as enrichment tools.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the giant Pacific octopus is a solitary creature that saves its energy for one chance at mating near the end of its 3-year life cycle.
As for Murray and Malvestuto, they’re just glad to have footage to back up their incredible story.
Said Murray: “In the diving community we have a mantra: If you don’t have a picture, it didn’t happen.”
–Pete Thomas, via GrindTv Outdoor
–Photos: Top image is a video screen grab. Second image is from Warren Murray's camera, before the octopus wrapped its arms around the gear