Lion Around


This week I fell in love with sea lions.  These magnificent, playful, dog-like creatures are truly one of the wonders of the sea.  Curious as soon as they hear a diver’s splash into the water, they come over to investigate our weird fins, and huge camera equipment.  Since all of us have dome ports, the sea lions are extra curious. They can look at their reflections, and continually come down to gaze at themselves in front of the camera lens.  At times, I wonder if they are posing for me, or just checking out their poses of themselves.

Sea lion gazes at his reflection in the camera housing's dome port.

Sea lion gazes at his reflection in the camera housing’s dome port.

It takes a little while for them to get comfortable with us, but when they do, they start to dance and play in the water around us.

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Before long, they begin to interact with the divers.

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One of the things that I can’t help laughing about is their attempts to mimic the bubbles we blow through our regulators.

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This young lion was fascinated with either me or it’s reflection, and tried out several different poses in front of the lens.

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It was one of the funnest dives I have had in a long time.  Kind of like spending the day with your dog in the park.  In the end, I think all of us were satisfied.

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Just Pulling Your Leg


A few years ago Octomom was all the rage in our news.  Can you imagine?  A woman gives birth to octuplets!  Then last May we heard about Octogoat, a young goat born with eight legs in Croatia!  It all seems too crazy to be true.  Now, thanks to Disney Jr., we have the Octonauts; a group of quirky characters dedicated to rescuing amazing sea creatures and  protecting the ocean.  Now these guys are the real deal.  Or am I just pulling your leg?  Well, legs seem to be the order of the day for the Octopus whose eight appendages aid it’s every move from feeding to locomotion to camouflage.

Mimic Octopus

Mimic Octopus

These amazing cephalopods are interesting in every way.  The Mimic Octopus (above) pulsates with color when agitated, turning from dark brown to light with striped legs.  The octopus below, is the same octopus only a few seconds later.  It is trying to make itself look more threatening by spreading out.

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One of the things that really fascinates me is the Octopus’s ability to camouflage itself.  This one imitates the sand that it lives in.

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This one looks very much like a rock.

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This one imitates the colors of the corals it inhabits,

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And this one blends in with the surrounding fauna.

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There are many different kinds of Octopus, and this tiny Pygmy Octopus was a riot to watch.  It has the tiniest little short legs which it hides underneath it’s body (while they are actually digging away the sand beneath)  Then Poof!  It disappears into the hole it was hiding with it’s body.

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Here is another Pygmy who’s body is disproportionate to it’s legs.  This one was also digging a hole to hide in, but rather than hiding that process under it’s body, it’s legs threw “handfuls” of sand out as it dug.

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The Pacific octopus takes on the greenish and reddish tint of the algae around it’s den, not to mention the rough terrain, and loves to wrap itself up in it’s own legs.

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Nothing is more surprising than watching an octopus slip into a space that is a fraction of it’s size, or hide inside an empty beer bottle. The octopus’s remarkable ability to change its appearance makes it seem like one of those far fetched octo-tales we hear about in the tabloids, but in this case, I am not pulling your leg!

My top 10 Things That go “Bump” in the Night


When I was a child I remember having a nightmare about ghosts coming out in the night. My father told me there wasn’t anything in my room at night that wasn’t there during the day. Well, I might have to argue that point when it comes to the ocean at night. Diving at night is one of the greatest pleasures I enjoy, and yet, that is when all the creepy, crawly critters come out that definitely aren’t there during the day. Perhaps it is my fascination with seeing things that few others have the opportunity to see that attracts me to diving at night. Perhaps it is just the creatures ability to camouflage during the day (and sometimes at night) that make them so interesting to see. Whatever it is, I can’t seem to get enough of the ocean at night.  So here is my countdown of my top 10:

 

No. 10.  The Mimic Octopus.  It pulsates with color and changes shape as it is threatened or excited.

Mimic Octopus

Mimic Octopus

No. 9.  Squid, and Pygmy Squid.  (They differ in that the squid are about two or three inches long, and the Pygmy squid is about the size of my pinky fingernail.)

Squid

Squid

Pygmy  squid with fish

Squid with fish

Pygmy Squid

Pygmy Squid

No. 8.   Mandarin Fish which mate every evening at dusk.

Mandarin Fish with Eggs

Mandarin Fish with Eggs

No. 7.  The Porcelain Crab.  It feeds by sifting the water with it’s feather duster arms.

Porcelain shrimp

Porcelain shrimp

No. 6.  The Creepy Crawly Sea Spider.  (Yeah, they kind of give me the heebie jeebies)

Sea Spider

Sea Spider

No 5.  The Box fish, or Cowfish.  (Sometimes seen during the daytime, they are most active at night.)

Boxfish

Boxfish

No. 4. The Pygmy Cuttlefish.  These guys are only about an inch long, and love to bury themselves in the sand.

Pygmy Cuttlefish

Pygmy Cuttlefish

Pygmy cuttlefish

Pygmy cuttlefish

No. 3.   Well, speaking of cuttlefish, the big guys are cool too.  This one was more like a foot long.

Cuttle fish

Cuttle fish

No. 2.  The Skeleton Shrimp.  These are the quirkiest critters I’ve ever seen.  They are full of personality and character and are only about half an inch long.

Skeleton shrimp

Skeleton shrimp

No. 1.  The Stargazer.  These are truly creepy fish that hide under the sand until their prey comes by.

Stargazer

Stargazer