On the first dive I ever took at Molokini (1988) I was with a small group of SCUBA divers on a dive boat out of Kihei. It was about 10 or 11 in the morning and we had dropped into the water in Molokini’s basin about 100 feet of so from the inside wall of the crater. As I recall, we were diving in about 40 or 50 feet of water when suddenly our divemaster frantically raced ahead and made a grab for something that was amazingly small and fast and racing around the coral.
When the rest of us caught up with him he was holding a small octopus, maybe 24 inches or so, in his hand. The octopus had wrapped its tentacles around his arm but did not appear to be terribly agitated. As I watched it I could visibly see it trying to change colors to match the divemaster’s wet suit sleeve and glove. What an amazing ability. After a few minutes he handed the body of the octopus to me and started to unwrap the clinging tentacles from his arm. Pretty quickly the octopus transferred his ownership to me and was now gripping my arm but with only a few of its tentacles. The rest were waving about and seemed to be trying to touch things like my BC and my regulator.
After only a few moments I, in turn, handed the little rascal off to the next diver. But I will never forget the exhilaration of actually handling a live octopus in its native waters. When we let it go, it squirted off and almost immediately found a hole in the coral where it could camouflage itself and hide. What a tremendous experience that was and it remains one of my favorite SCUBA memories.
Octopuses sense of touch is acute in it's suckers. A blindfolded octopus can differentiate between objects of various shapes and sizes as well as a sighted octopus.
If an octopus is disturbed, special pigment cells in the skin will be activated in an attempt to blend in with the surroundings. Coloration reflects mood, white for fear, red for anger, brown is the usual color.
If you dive at Molokini be sure to be watchful for the wily octopus that may be only a few feet away.