09 January 2011

The Octopus at the Eastern Edge of the Reef

I did not dive on Saturday, so I was not sure if Luis would be at the beach this morning. Just in case he was not, I got up early enough to make two dives before the Lifeguards got there at 9:30 am. The air temperature was 62 degrees, but the water was a bit warmer at 68 degrees, and it felt good during the first half hour of the dive.

Luis was not at the beach, so I went in by myself. I entered a mild surf near Tower 19, and went looking for the Staghorn Coral Forest Luis and I swam through on Friday. I did not find it on this first dive. I saw very little on my way to the Eastern edge of the reef, but on the way back, I found a grouping of several large rocks with lots of reef fish, a large Red Grouper and an octopus.

The Octopus was apparently dining on Conch and was so engrossed in his meal that he did not notice me until I was very close. At first, I did not notice him either. Instead, I was focused on the large Red Grouper that was following him. Then I saw the octopus swim towards a large rock right next to me. I got some pictures, then swam away and watched as the Octopus went back to the Conch shell on which he had been working. The second time I approached, I held my breath and was able to get very close to him. He was large, much larger than other octopus I have seen on these reefs.

I was pretty excited and surprisingly still warm, so I was eager to change tanks and make a second dive before the Lifeguards showed up. I got out of the water and walked back to the truck. I propped my dive flag up against the truck and some older woman hit it then tripped on it and broke it. I couldn't find any way to fix it, so I packed up and went home.

When I got home, I had an email from Luis, who had wanted to dive this morning. I called and we agreed to meet at the beach for an afternoon dive. I had to first go to the shop and get a new flag, however. I got to the beach a little after 1:00 pm and there were no parking spots from Sunrise North. I lucked into one South of Tower 19 and grabbed it. Luis was parked just North of Tower 19. We geared up and met in the middle, then went diving.

We headed East from the beach, but started somewhat North of Tower 19. We ran into the Staghorn Coral Forest and found the coral supports. Still not sure what these things are. I was looking for the large rocks from this morning and the octopus, but we did not see them. Probably South of where we were, but in low visibility, it is very difficult to know.

By the time we got back to the beach, I was shivering. I was too cold to make a third dive.

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