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Water, Fire and Octopi

Water, Fire and Octopi

Not an octopus

Clams spit when they close. It's not bad manners, it's just what they do, pushing all the extra water out so they can close. It makes them easy to spot and photograph at low tide. I took the above photo at low tide on Town Beach in Exmouth, Western Australia.

Walking down the beach, looking for more, I saw a particularly big spurt of water. Hoping for a giant clam and a great photograph, I circled around to a good vantage point. I readied my camera and jumped back as a jet of water went a metre up in the air, straight toward my camera lens.

It wasn't a clam.

I took some more pictures, dodging more streams of water, before it moved as I did and I realised what my adversary was: an octopus.

I looked him up. This guy is a Day Octopus (Octopus cyanea), called this because they hunt during the day. They can camouflage incredibly well by changing colour really quickly. I saw this one turn from red to purple to yellow, which is where I lost him because he was the same colour as the sand.

Octopi are very intelligent. Laboratory experiments have placed them as having a similar intelligence to a small human child. I can certainly vouch for that – I felt like I was facing down a pre-schooler with a water pistol.

In my short story, Water and Fire, Aidan is compared to an octopus folding itself into a rock cleft and one jetting away in a hurry. Well, this guy did both and I managed to catch it on camera. Funny, the octopus was a red-head, too, just like Aidan. But Aidan had better manners.

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish. She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray-drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below. Sensationalist spin? No - Demelza tends to take a camera with her so she can capture and share the moment later; shipwrecks, sharks and all. Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world.

Demelza Carlton

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