Guiding divers is a wonderful part of being a professional diver. Finding critters on dive sites is a whole other skill. We all see the different fish that are living on or passing through a reef area. Identifying these for your divers is wonderful but there is always something more.
Being able to see marine life that is well camouflaged and often hiding in plain sight. Requires a different approach. Now you take on the role of the hunter and ask yourself some questions. If I was an octopus what would my home look like? Being a scorpion Fish what difference does the coral that I’m sitting on make? Understanding the life style of creatures will help you find them.
Octopus seem to be the hard one to find for most guides. Usually because they don’t see the signs that are quite clearly being displayed. Octopus like a hole to hide in. And they always like it to be the same height all the way round. Using bits of coral the octopus will build a wall to even up the sides of the hole. Finding coral around a hole that seems to neat is the first hint. If there is pieces of coral filling the hole it usually means the octopus is home sleeping. As they like to pull pieces of rubble in on top of themselves to hide.
Manta Shrimp can be seen fussing around their hole but can you find the hole without them? It’s usually a nice clean runway going under a rock or into a convenient hole. Some other items that show a Manta Shrimp is hunting in the area. Broken crabs shells and hermit crab shells that have been smashed open. Manta Shrimp take no prisoners and are very good hunters.
Moray Eels are easy to find when they are hanging out of a hole but can you find them when they are inside the hole. Usually keeping their noses just inside the hole but the cleaner Wrasse are usually the tell tail sign. Cleaner Wrasse find Morays a great source of food. As they are usually there for the day the cleaner Wrasse have time for other customers as well.
The white hair sized feelers of boxer shrimp are worth looking for in amongst holes and rock shelters. Easily seen from a short distance they make for something different to see. Although you need to have good buoyancy control to see them most times.
Many Critters hide either as protection or as stealth hunters. Studying their habits and the types of homes they like will help you find them. Using your knowledge to suddenly show an octopus that divers have passed without seeing, gives you another level of diving proficiency. Thinking like marine life is always a benefit to our understanding. Learning habitat and feeding habits all helps increase our awareness of what is around us. And with this knowledge we should be able to find more unusual and hard to see marine life on our dives.
PADI IDC Staff Instructor 331032
AUS DIVING ACADEMY