At daybreak this morning, I took Eddie to Osborne Bay Park. I didn't take my camera because I thought I was just taking him to the fields for some off-leash exercise as his walks have been short the past two days while I battled the flu. My chest feels like it has been whacked by a sledge hammer (from all the coughing), so I never dreamed we would hike down to the beach. No camera, no bottle of water, no dog treats. Just me, my dog, and the poop bags.
Eddie, however, had other ideas.
He was delighted to arrive at the park, and trotted off down the trail with his tail high and a huge happy smile. He bounced and pounced and raced back and forth between me and the trail ahead. "C'mon, mom, c'mon!" was clearly his message. How could I say no to such a happy dog? It was a beautiful morning, with the sun melting the frost, and the first threads of steam rising from sodden logs; in no time at all, we were on the beach.
The high tide had just turned, and the seabirds were plentiful. As we worked our way along the shore, around fallen trees from the bank and logs washed ashore from the ocean, I heard a commotion. As I rounded a bend, I saw the source - a large female Belted Kingfisher perched on a tree trunk as a shadow passed through the water just below. A perfect shot - kingfishers are usually shy and quick to fly. I cursed myself for not carrying the camera.
And then I looked harder at the shadow in the water. A few feet out from shore, along the sandy and shell-laden bottom of the crystal clear bay was a grey shape with a bulbous head, swimming strongly against the flow of the tide. A seal? No, it didn't come up for air. A jellyfish? No, it was not translucent and didn't fan out at the top like a parachute.
I ran along the bank, as the creature came closer and finally, as it paused to work its way through a mess of overhanging branches extending down through the surf, I got a good look. And couldn't believe my eyes - it was an OCTOPUS!
I knew this area is home to some Giant Pacific Octopus, but understood they live out in the depths. And this one wasn't that big. As soon as I got home, I searched the internet, and soon found exactly the creature I had seen. Check out the video on this page and you'll even see him emerge from the water! They don't identify the species, but that was him (or her). The one is the video is from California. We have seen an increase in sea mammals here lately - dolphins and many species of whales - perhaps as a result of climate change or other environmental shifts. So perhaps the octopus are also moving north.
Mine didn't emerge from the water, but did come within 3 feet of the shore. I couldn't help but think of The Beatles' song from their 1969 album Abbey Road:
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade......
I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus' garden with me.
According to Wikipedia, a ship's captain told Ringo Starr that octopuses (octopi?) travel along the sea bed picking up stones and shiny objects with which to build gardens. I wonder if that is what mine was doing?(Written by Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, 1969)
Whatever my octopus was up to, he/she certainly made my day.
And you can give me twenty lashes with a wet noodle if I ever leave the camera behind again!