Diving with Octopus

Octopuses are masters of disguise, capable of hiding in crevices with only their white-rimmed suckers visible or blending seamlessly into their surroundings, whether perched on the mud, hunting on the reef, or buried in debris with just their eyes peering through. They may even engage in playful interactions like peek-a-boo with observers, demonstrating both their curiosity and their ability to adapt to their environment.

When encountering an octopus underwater, divers should be mindful of their presence and cautious in their interactions. Octopuses, being benthic organisms, typically prefer to remain close to the bottom of the sea. If an octopus attaches itself to a diver, the diver should attempt a slow ascent, as moving away from the bottom may prompt the octopus to release its grip and retreat. If this approach fails, gently twisting the arms of the octopus has proven effective in some instances, though care must be taken to avoid sudden movements that could agitate the animal or compromise safety.

It’s crucial to recognize that an octopus’s mouth is situated at the center of its eight arms and contains a pair of sharp teeth known as a beak. Octopuses use this beak to bite their prey, and some species possess venom that can be injected through their bite. If an octopus has already latched onto a diver with its strong suckers, the best course of action is to calmly and gently detach the animal to avoid injury. Prompt and careful action is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable diving experience for both humans and octopuses alike.

Here in Costa Rica, the Reef Octopus, Octopus mimus, is the most common to spot on the reefs. It’s color ranges, and often displays gray, yellow, green and black speckles.

Diving with a local, knowledgeable guide, such as Oceans Unlimited in Costa Rica, is a great way of ensuring a great experience with octopuses. Local instructors are much more likely to spot octopuses and are very capable of dealing with species interactions. Learning the underwater sign for octopus is essential for your diving experience as well.