Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Making up for lost time /Octopus day

I've been trying to make up for the last few years; where i haven't been well enough to go to the beach and actually swim with my kids. So luckily there are no appointments scheduled until just before school starts again, and we've been going to the beach every day.

I am not a great fan of beaches, in that i hate sitting in the sun and sand annoys me intensely. However, i do love snorkelling and swimming in the sea - swimming pools don't attract me that much , i like to be able to see wild life and excercise at the same time.

Yesterday and today have been pretty good as i've timed things well- we get to the beach about 6pm , spend an hour in the water non-stop and then head for home, exhausted.
Its still warm at that time and the sea is a comfortable temperature for swimming.

Yesterday didn't look like a great day for snorkelling since the sea looked very disturbed and dark. However it turned out to be excellent visibility further out and there were a huge number of fish shoals.

Its a lot of fun to swim through shaols of tiny fish though i have to say that occasionally teh theme from Jaws comes into my head and I'm very aware of being in the midst of a very interesting food source. Still , most of the time i can concerntate on watching the fish.

Yesterday's shoals had encouraged some really large fish -maybe 18inches long- to cluster around the various little fish shoals and while i was watching an octopus darted out of a rock cave and tried to catch one of the big fish.

I've never seen an octopus before while snorkelling. I've caught a tiny squid and a puffer fish in Scotland [these being the most exotic animals i've seen in the sea previously] but the octopous was a fantastic surpise.
They are generally nocturnal and usually are keen on crabs; but 18 inches of fish must have been too tempting.

The octopus was maybe 20 inches or so- it was difficult to work out the size as it was moving pretty quickly. It was longer than the fish anyway.

I could see that it had caught sight of me and it changed colour in the blink of an eye - from a sandy mustard colour to a brown-ish green colour which blended in with the rocks and weed.

They have very fascinating eyes - very well developed and it was clearly watching me to see what i was doing.
I tried to alert my kids to the octopus but by the time they reacted, it had gone.

This is somewhat inspired by the octopus i saw.

Sketchy swimming octopus

Of course today we spent ages looking for octopuses - we found some likely 'caves' that had empty crabshells lying outside but no octopuses showed themselves.

Today was the day of blue fish - tiny fish that were remarkably similar to the ones you see in fish tanks and some large fish with with big turquoise blue spots.

I also saw some of the black sea urchins that are common in the area and are eaten as a delicacy. There are several fishermen aroudn here who collect these every day and sell them from a barrow in the town. When my kids first saw them they were really excited at the thought of trying sea urchin.

The fisherman allowed my kids to have a taste and they were smitten. I ended up buying a dozen sea urchins and being told by my 5 and 3 year old [at that time] that i had to taste them or i couldn't say i didn't like them! Tables turned lol.

There were lots of very large crabs around today- with shells about the size of my hand and i spent some time watching one eat.



just sayin' said...

I've only seen a living octopus one time and that was when I was snorkeling in Hawaii. It scared the crap out of me because it was so unexpected, and moved so quickly. But then when I calmed down, I felt lucky to have seen such a shy creature.

no name said...

lovely drawings!