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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rough landing?

We were finishing up field work along the rocky shore early this morning and looked down to see this animal splayed out over a boulder:

We weren't sure if it was still alive, but we had a large plastic ziploc bag with us, so we filled the bag with seawater and gently placed the animal in the water.  This is the next view we had:

The waves were fairly large this morning (~9.5 feet), so perhaps this octopus was tossed up onto the rocks and was a bit shocked by a rough landing.  But once in the aquarium-like setting of the ziploc bag, its eyes opened, it started actively pumping water through its siphon, and it starting reaching around with its long arms. 

Here are two close-ups of several arms and an eye.

We were glad to see that the octopus appeared to be fine!  

Note the chromatophores surrounding the eye.  I introduced octopus chromatophores and showed some photos and videos of them in February.  If you haven't seen those yet, you can check them out here.

P.S.  I'm not certain, but it's possible that the octopus in this post is a juvenile Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)


ingrid said...

What a beautiful anecdote ... and photos. How did you life him or her without harm, may I ask? That seems like precarious positioning. Invariably, when I read a piece like this, I come upon a similar situation and then don't know precisely what to do. Fantastic blog! I came upon it while looking for Bodega Head and "June."

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Ingrid! Well, we positioned the bag (with seawater) right next to the octopus and then Eric very gently moved his fingers underneath the octopus. It didn't take much to lift it into the bag. Then you can just release it into a nearby tidepool (like emptying a bucket of water)! I should mention that octopuses have strong beaks and can bite, so if they're active, you might not want to handle them.

It's also possible the octopus would have been just fine without our intervention -- that is, when the tide came in, it might have slid back into the water and recovered on its own.