Campbell River described as hotspot for octopuses on World Octopus Day
CAMPBELL RIVER -- Being a hotspot for cold water diving makes Campbell River the perfect location to acknowledge Oct. 8 as World Octopus Day.
Diver Krystal Janicki says it took her about 50 dives before she was able to spot her first octopus, an animal that she says she loves.
"Octopus are absolutely my number one," she said. "Every time I see one it's like the first time. My heart and my brain and my shoulders just light up, like I've never seen something so amazing."
Her passion is shared by marine biologist James Cosgrove who used to work for the Royal BC Museum and co-authored a book about the creatures called "Super Suckers" back in 2009.
"They are an amazing, complex animal," he told CTV News. "For example, they have three hearts so at the end of each one of their gills they have a small heart that pushes blood through the gill and then it all goes back through a main body heart." Cosgrove says.
He's also quick to share other amazing facts on octopuses, like their blood being copper-based instead of iron-based like humans. That results in their blood being blue, thus giving them the royal designation in the ocean of being 'Blue Bloods.' He adds that an octopus’ esophagus goes right through the centre of their brain and when they're touching you with their suckers, the creature is actually tasting you. Cosgrove also says octopuses normally only live to be about four or five years of age.
The marine biologist says that B.C.’s west coast is home to the Giant Pacific Octopus, which is the largest species in the octopus family, and are not to be mistaken for squids.
He says the largest one he's ever seen weighed 156 pounds and was 22 feet across. It’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Dive operator and photographer Roger McDonell of OceanFix.ca Dive Centre says the waters around Campbell River are some of the best cold water diving locations in the world, and are perfect for viewing the creature.
"You'll find octopus just about everywhere. There are some specific sites that we know we can go on a regular basis and find them," said McDonnel. "They're particularly a nocturnal creature so (any time) we can go for a night dive there's a better chance of seeing octopus."
He says that during a charter last week, in the period of one dive, 11 different octopuses were spotted, many of which were in their dens.
"We have to really appreciate that they're valuable to our marine culture and having the variety of them here makes it that much of a better experience for the divers," he said.
For those not wanting to gear up and go under water, the Ucluelet Aquarium normally offers the opportunity to see octopus up close and personal. Although, the 'catch and release' facility doesn't currently have any on hand. Their most recent octopus grew too large for its tank and was returned to the ocean.