An Octopus’s Garden – More than just a Song!

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By guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou

Octopus

 

“I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden in the shade
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been
In his octopus’s garden in the shade”

We all know the song, and I know you are all humming the tune as you read this. The Beatles have been my soundtrack on countless dives, and every time I see an octopus or the tell-tale signs of one this song starts its welcome loop again.

But what is an octopus’s garden? Why is it so important to this honorary vertebrate? And why was Ringo so drawn to life beneath the waves? The PADI AWARE Fish Identification specialty course is for you if you want to know more.

Octopuses are weird and wonderful. They play, they socialize and they remember. They map out their local environment and hide their precious meaty bodies away from anything that would like to call it lunch. They can squeeze themselves into unthinkably tiny spaces, they can hide in plain view and they can play tricks with their environment to keep themselves safe.

The octopus is the fillet mignon of the ocean. No shell and no bones means that if a predator is lucky enough to catch one it’s going to have a serious meal on its menu.

So, they hide, they camouflage, they are seriously sneaky and that’s great.

The octopus also finds a favorite spot, a cave or crevice that makes it feel protected. In a world, we’re everyone wants to eat you, this must be quite a relief to find, and they often stay there for hours, days or even weeks. Like us humans, it is thought they like to decorate their homes and give it that personal touch. Lacking an IKEA or Habitat they improvise using the natural flotsam and jetsam found around the sea bed, and no Alan Key is needed! Pretty rocks and shells are arranged in an almost jenga-like formation outside their hiding spot. A garden for all to see and admire. The slightest disturbance can send their decorations tumbling. Perhaps this even serves as an underwater doorbell or burglar alarm? Little is known about why they do this, but here it is: the octopus’s garden.

Octopus den

Ringo fell in love with the sea after just a simple boat trip in Sardinia, and the song octopus’s garden was released on the Beatles 1969 album Abbey Road. He was captivated by a story told from the boat’s captain about how octopus travel along to sea bed collecting stones and shiny objects. He hadn’t even been diving and he was in love, and this awesome song was born. Imagine if he had had a PADI scuba instructor on board….

Want to know more about Octopuses? Check out this post: 10 Curious Facts About Octopuses