This space is devoted to sharing information about Point Reyes and the surrounding areas. Find information about the local plants, wildlife, the hiking/biking trails around Point Reyes National Seashore, tales of our recent outings and explorations, wildlife encounters & sightings, and other exciting happenings in the natural world.
Recently, we had a chance to get out onto Tomales Bay on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It was a great day for paddling as well as viewing wildlife. We saw all kinds of tide pool creatures, harbor seals and seabirds. Our most exciting find, however, occurred as we were launching our kayaks into the bay. Just as the first couple of boats paddled away from the ramp, we began to see long, shiny red tentacles emerging out of the water. Soon after, the head and body of a rather large East Pacific Red Octopus followed as the handsome critter slowly and carefully made his way onto shore. Undoubtedly, our stomping around in the mud launching our boats disturbed him from his cool, shady hangout; but it gave us a great chance to check out one of the bays most interesting bottom dwellers up close as he shifted from red to purple to brown.
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The East Pacific Red Octopus, once thought just be the young of North Pacific Giant Octopus, is its own species entirely. These much smaller cousins of the Giant Octopus only grow to be about 20 inches from the top of their head to the end of their tentacles. Like all octopi, they are capable of changing their color, generally ranging from red to brown and occasionally white. While the Giant Octopus is found in the depths of the ocean, East Pacific Reds prefer the warm shallow waters of bays and estuaries.
Unlike other invertebrates, when the East Pacific Red catches a meal, it does not eat it right on the spot. Instead, it gathers a collection of crabs, clams and scallops and brings them home to enjoy at its leisure. When the meal is done, the octopus carefully stacks the empty shells outside the entrance to their home, giving the other animals roaming the bay a clear idea of who lives there.
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In general, the Octopus is thought to be one of the most intelligent of all invertebrates. Research has shown that they are capable of problem solving and retaining memories. In fact, the East Pacific Red Octopus was the first invertebrate in captivity to show signs of having individual personalities.
Obviously in our rush to get out onto the water we had disturbed the little guy from his normal routine; so once we were finished taking his picture, we helped him find his way into the shade under the dock and out of sight of the hungry seagulls flying overhead.