April 13, 2018
Kraken attack – a drama in three acts...
Well, not actually a kraken. While exploring an unidentified shipwreck on Friday the 13th during Dive 02, we encountered two octopods, Muusoctopus johnsonianus.
The first encounter was a fairly large individual crawling across the sediment as the remotely operated vehicle was transiting to the shipwreck. When we arrived at the wreck and explored it, the arms and suckers of another octopod were visible beneath some of the planks. Later during the detailed examination of the wreck, an octopod (presumably the first one) crawled up to the wreck and attempted to enter the space which already had an octopod occupant. The occupant did not seem pleased and, after a brief scuffle, drove the intruder away. In the final act of this drama, the intruder swam several meters away from the wreck and landed on the sediment. There it started writhing all of its arms. Some shallow-water octopods do this to bury in the sediment. If that was its goal, it wasn’t very successful, perhaps because cloud of stirred-up sediment drifted slowly away rather than covering the octopod. Alternatively, maybe all of that arm waving was just a temper tantrum after having lost the Battle of the Shipwreck.
Text contributed by Michael Vecchione, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service National Systematics Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.