I get to go diving with The Magnificent 7.  A rule of thumb about nicknames is that you can’t give yourself one—it has to be bestowed upon you.  Well, no one told us we were The Magnificent 7.  It’s just something we told ourselves, and now we try to live up to it on every trip.

We are not always seven.  Sometimes we are fewer, sometimes one or two more.  And on occasion we have an experience with a sea creature that leaves such an indelible impression that it’s as if the magnificent critter has become part of our little diving community.

For our trip to Dumaguete in the Philippines, my buddy brought along a small hard plastic figurine of Peso from the popular Octonauts television program, a show his young son was into at the time.  Peso came with us on dives, and had a penchant for posing for underwater photos. 

On one dive, we were visited by a coconut octopus, so named because of this species’ talent for finding coconut shells and utilizing them as personal shelter.  This particular coconut octopus took an immediate shine to Peso’s clear plastic helmet.  And why wouldn’t it?  The helmet was exactly the right size, sturdy and well-built, hinged on one side for easy opening and closing, and with a clear 360° view of the sea.

The octopus went right up to the Peso figurine standing in the sand.  It swiftly figured out how to open the helmet and remove it from Peso, and just as swiftly decided it had no use for Peso himself.

Over the course of the next magical half an hour, the coconut octopus, heretofore known as “Pesopus,” got well acquainted with this one-of-a-kind “coconut shell”.  It ran various tests on it for mobility (by stepping into it entirely, closing it upon itself, and rolling down a sandy slope in it!), portability (by getting back out of it and carrying it across the sand), and reliability (opening and closing it several times over).

On this day my dive buddies and I were more like the “Grateful” 7 – “Magnificent” was far more fitting a title for Pesopus!

(To see my photo essay of this encounter, go to The Pesopus Sequence.) 

banner photo by Scott Friedman