A couple of days ago we decided to go out and explore our study site again: Balandra. This is a beautiful place, with 7 white sand beaches and a mangrove area that is full of life (see the map of our tour in the photos).
We begin our journey from the first beach (nearest to the parking lote), we inflate our boat and we move walking towards the point that we select for our camp. Once there, we set up our camp and the necessary equipment. We started the exploration by joining an underwater camera (used for fishing) to a metal tube that allowed us to observe the bottom in real time. One person controlled the camera, and another directed the boat slowly, while two other people explored the surroundings in search of the famous octopuses.
Shortly after starting we found our first octopus !! probably Octopus fitchi. We put it in a container with water and after a few minutes, we carefully remove it from its shell. We took video and photographs and returned it to the place where it was inside its shell. Later we found the lair of a larger octopus, full of mussel shells, in this case, it was Octopus hubbsorum. At this moment is when we realized the enormous advantage offered by having a remote camera to record these organisms, since at the beginning we tried to record the octopus in his lair, using our personal cameras, but our presence scared him. Then we try with the underwater camera attached to the tube and the octopus even showed curiosity about the camera, he moved from front to back trying to decipher if it was a prey or a predator. It was beautiful to see this behaviour! Unfortunately, the light was not enough, and the video could not be seen clearly, but it was a pleasant encounter.
Afterwards, we decided to take a short break since the water was quite cold and to avoid frightening the octopuses we were all moving very slowly, so we lost heat quickly... so, after sunbathing and build an octopus in the sand as inspiration ... we decided to continue exploring.
We discovered the areas with the greatest potential to house octopuses and discarded other areas where there is hardly any shell in the bottom. We found another octopus inside a mussel, the first we have seen inside this bivalve species! And it seemed to be Paroctopus digueti. After observing it a bit, we also return it comfortably to the bottom.
Interestingly, we found a specimen of Octopus hubbsorum inside a big snail, this was easily distinguishable from the other octopus’s species due to its characteristic colouring pattern. When we put it in the container, after a while it came out, we took some photos and returned quickly to his house. We leave it in its place and continue.
Finally, we found again the first octopus we had registered. We could recognize it because it was still in the same shell and lacked the same frontal arm. Will we find it again on the next expedition?
This first exploration was a success! But we still have a lot to explore in this place and above all much to document!
Originally posted on National Geographic Open Explorer to shelldwellingoctopuses.