Marine Diversity in Bora Bora
Following on from the launch of WiseOceans Discovery Marine Educator blogs last month, this month’s submission by Team Leader and Marine Biologist and Educator Louise gives you a glimpse into the marine life that surrounds our Bora Bora team, who are based at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.
Ia Orana from Bora Bora
Ia Orana (hello) from the team here in Bora Bora, French Polynesia!
Bora Bora, also referred to as the ‘Most Beautiful Lagoon in the World’ or the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ is one of 118 islands that comprise the French Polynesian archipelagos. Although we are blessed with incredibly rich and diverse marine life, from colourful colours and intriguing invertebrates to resident manta rays, this blog actually focuses on a recent encounter with a truly fascinating creature: the octopus!
Master of Camouflage
In our office, the Lagoon Sanctuary, we are lucky to regularly spot octopuses and each encounter is special! The octopus belongs to the class Cephalopoda, one it notably shares with cuttlefish and squid.
Have you ever day-dreamed about owning Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak? Well, the octopus doesn’t have to dream – their skin already has this power! An octopuses skin is covered with chromatophores, cells able to perform colour changes to match their surrounds at dizzying speeds. In fact, chameleons could learn something from how quick an octopus can change its colouring.
Colour changing is undertaken for varying reasons – it can be used in communication, as a courtship ritual or, as is most commonly used, to evade detection. In addition to matching the colour of it’s surroundings, their skin can also match it’s texture! When moving through the water, octopus skin usually appears smooth, however if an individual settles on to coral, or rubble, it can change the texture of it’s skin to become slightly bumpy, or spiky.
The images below both show the same octopus!
As part of our joint Marine Discovery Programme we conduct night snorkelling sessions. This is the best opportunity to witness how the reef changes when moving from day to night. This ecosystem shift can include day species hiding away and night species revealing themselves or simply changed behaviour or appearance from species who can be seen during both periods.
The octopus often behaves differently under the cloak of darkness – as this is when it is on the lookout for prey. Even with torches, it is even harder to spot an octopus at night than during the day. However we are often fortunate enough to glimpse them during the popular night snorkel activities.
In the peaceful surroundings of the Lagoon Sanctuary, we have come to regularly spot a new friend, one who likes to hide nearby the stairs leading into the lagoon. Affectionately named Nautilus, this (now) teenage octopus has grown significantly since we first spotted it, hiding away in a rock hole half covered by a small Porites coral, as shown below.
Did you know? Devoted female octopuses starve to death whilst looking after their eggs (which can reach numbers up to 500,000!) and usually die shortly after hatching begins.
Did you enjoy ‘A Marine Biologists’ Wonderland’?
Then check out our Marine Educator blogs for more insights