Story Behind the Shot – Coconut Octopus

I am a big fan of octopus, I would willingly spend an hour with a curious octopus watching it go about its daily life, combing its environment looking for food and avoiding predators. The species of octopus doesn’t matter; they all seem to have an innate curiosity of their surroundings and will often interact with a diver who moves slowly and carefully.

Coconut octopus in Puri Jati, Bali, Indonesia

One of my favourite octopus encounters was with this coconut octopus during a dive at Puri Jati (PJs) in north Bali, Indonesia. Coconut or veined octopuses, Amphioctopus marginatus, have recently been designated as the first invertebrate able to use tools, elevating their status as an intelligent animal. On this dive, I encountered this guy in less than 5 metres of water and was able to spend a long time watching and photographing his/her daily life. The first thing that stands out in the photograph is that the octopus is obviously using the coconut shell as a home (hence the name) but that the “roof” of the house is a bright pink plastic cap! This photograph pretty much sums up the intelligence of these animals and lends credence to the idea that they can use tools. Not finding a suitable shell to use a “roof” to close up the shell when threatened, this octopus was able to substitute the next best thing it could find. Thinking I would help out this little guy and find it a clam shell to use instead of a piece of bright pink plastic, I found a big clam shell and brought it over, but when I set it beside the octopus it showed no interest whatsoever!  He/she was more than happy with its bright pink roof and just picked up its shell and trundled away!

Raja Ampat 2014

Mike just spent three weeks scouting Raja Ampat before our big trip out there in March 2015, here are a few samples of the stunning topside scenery that we will hopefully encounter while we are there.  The topside scenery of Raja was stunning as usual and Mike was even able to explore a few places he has not visited before such as Ayu Atoll.  Although he didn’t do a lot of diving and there are no underwater shots to be shown, the trip was incredible and we can’t wait for our big 2015 Underwater Tribe trip with the Mermaid II liveaboard coming soon!

Fishermen approaching their boats, Misool, Raja Ampat

Two fishermen approach their boats, Raja Ampat

Sand Spit, Ayu, Raja Ampat

Ayu Atoll sandy beach, Raja Ampat

Jetty and shallow reef, Raja Ampat

Local jetty in Ayu Atoll, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Ayu Atoll Village

Clean Streets in Ayu Atoll

Wayag Panoramic View

View from Wayag lookout

Split beach photo in Misool, Raja Ampat

Split beach photo, Misool, Raja Ampat

Kayak photo Waigeo Beach, Raja Ampat

POV photo while kayaking in Waigeo, Raja Ampat

Rocks and Beach, Raja Ampat

Black rocks surrounding a white beach, Raja Ampat

Fisherman and Storm, Raja Ampat

Fisherman seeking shelter from approaching storm, Raja Ampat

Coral Reefs of Indonesia

Coral reef Indonesia

the coral reef on the reef top of Dead Man’s Rock, Komodo National Park

Indonesia is home of some of the most diverse and healthy coral reef in the world. While diving Komodo National Park it is possible to visit several site with abundant fish and coral life.

Story Behind the Shot – The Coral Reef

Cabbage Coral hard coral reefI admit it, I have a bit of a weak spot for shallow hard coral gardens. I know most people think they are simply a nice bit of reef to look at, but don’t find them overly photogenic and give them a quick “once over” before looking for critters or heading down the wall.  However, I could take photos of hard corals for hours on end. If an area has a healthy hard coral reef, then it’s usually a strong indicator of the overall health of the marine environment in that region.   As hard corals are very fragile, they are often the first life forms to be destroyed when a major catastrophe happens such as a large storm or “El Nino” style event. Unfortunately, I have seen all too often the devastating effects of El Nino, typhoons, crown of thorn starfish outbreaks, and dynamite fishing; all of which can completely destroy a beautiful coral garden within a very short time. Therefore, when I find healthy and extensive hard coral gardens I just can’t help taking photos from every angle.

I visited a new location last week called Parigi Moutong, which is located in the SW corner of Tomini Bay in central Sulawesi, and I had the opportunity to get in the water for three dives. One of the first things that I noticed while surveying the area was the health of the hard corals as well as bright blue water. I have to say that the corals in Parigi Moutong were surprisingly healthy and abundant along the reef drop-offs and I spent most of my dives in the shallows documenting the beautiful forms of these reefs.

This photo is of the hard coral garden on the dive site “Rose”, was taken with a Nikon D7000 and Aquatica housing with a 10.5mm lens and Magic Filter at f8, 1/40.  I simply made sure my strobes were turned off, had the sun at my back, aimed slightly down and fired away.