BC Aquatic Life: How to Find Octopus

Picture by:Ab Kurk

Picture by:Ab Kurk

One of the most exciting things about diving in BC waters is finding octopus. I think that they are on everybody’s wish list of underwater critters to spot during a dive. The question is how to find them. With a body that allows them to squeeze into any crack in a wall, they could be anywhere. I have found them in car tires, bottles, once even in a discarded fin foot pocket.

In some places in BC “around the Port Hardy region” you can find them just in the open. It is still hard to spot them as they are masters of camouflage. You just look for boulders that are not boulders. They move in a rhythmic pattern as they move water through their blow holes to breath.

Most places in BC they hide during the day in cracks, either natural ones like in the rocks or man made ones like a car tire. We call those places they hide dens. The octopus in them we call cractopus. But how to spot them...

You look for a trail of broken up crab exoskeleton. Octopus are messy eaters. Their favourite meal are crabs. They expel the part of the crab they can’t eat through their blow holes outside their den. Follow the trail and you’ll find an octopus den. If it is a wall you have to look up as the den is probable a bit above the debris. If you are lucky their might be an octopus inside.

The two most common octopus in BC are the Giant Pacific Octopus or GPO, and the Red Pacific Octopus. The Red Pacific Octopus often gets falsely Identified as a juvenile GPO as they are a lot smaller.

A great book to learn more about octopus is Super Suckers, which is available to buy for $26.95 from Rowand's Reef.