Perhaps because of their sci-fi appearance, cephalopods tend to intrigue many divers. They’re highly intelligent, able to problem-solve, and have innate camouflage abilities that can be hypnotic. They can also be highly charismatic video or photo subjects. That is if they’re not being altogether elusive.
Sightings are rare at most dive locations, often limited to very specific spots or night dives. Divers can turn over rocks and pull out shells in search of a tentacle, only to be disappointed time and again.
One place this won’t happen is the Philippines, especially in the Dumaguete and Puerto Galera areas. While staying at the Atlantis Dive Resort near Dumaguete, we had extended interactions with several cephalopod species, including two of which are deadly. Our excitement never waned with each dive and subsequent octopus, squid, or cuttlefish interaction. Even the Atlantis dive guides still seemed excited to find them. The untrained eye can struggle to spot these masters of disguise, but the Atlantis guides are pros at picking them out quickly.
We saw wunderpus, coconut octopus, blue-ringed octopus, ocellated (mototi) octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, crinoid cuttlefish and pharaoh cuttlefish most often during the day dives. At night, the bobtail squid and coconut octopuses stole the show. Though we didn’t see any while we were there, mimic octopuses hang out in the area. You may also spot hairy octopus, starry night octopus, two-toned pygmy squid, and bigfin reef squid. Although we would have loved to see a nautilus, we didn’t have any luck. However, divers have seen them near the Atlantis resorts.
There’s lots of unique marine life in the Dumaguete area. Bring some patience and good buoyancy control, and have a big “thank you” ready for the Atlantis Dive Resorts dive guides.