Divers often say that another world exists below the surface of our oceans. For me, this couldn’t be nearer to the truth. When I have the opportunity to ‘fun dive’ or dive for myself rather than frantically trying to impress my guests, I love to just stop for a moment and watch something I may have seen thousands of times before. When I get that chance to spend time with these ordinary creatures I always find something so extraordinary about how it achieves it’s daily activities and that never fails to impress me.
Earlier this year on a dive trip in Lembeh, Indonesia, I had a week of ‘fun dives’ with no time restraints, interruptions or guests. Perfect. Now any keen diver could easily rattle off five top creatures to see in Lembeh that can rarely be found anywhere else in the world and it is very likely that their list would include the hailed Flamboyant cuttlefish, Metasepia pfefferi. Knowing how much we wanted to see one, our guide kept his eyes peeled and on this particular evening dive he found us two. Mesmerised I knelt on the sand, watched and simply absorbed.
At 1/3 the size of a brick, he is greyish in colour. He stands isolated and steadfast, undeterred by me or his surroundings. I move in closer, my mask comes to within inches of his tentacles. He barely notices me, instead he is focused on a small goatfish fossicking in the sand to his right. In preparation, he firmly plants his front ‘feet’ in the sand and leans upright. His smooth grey skin alters to a textured array of vibrant hues, pulsating in waves along his body. Bright purples, reds, yellows and white he shines; truly flamboyant. Without warning a long, white, cylindrical tube escapes his tentacles towards the unaware goatfish and like a frogs tongue he snatches it. In a flash of movement this snakelike tongue is recoiled like an elastic band back into his mouth. Remarkable.
I lie there for minutes, watching this bizarre scenario again and again not quite believing my eyes. The cuttlefish went about his business, seamlessly feeding on unexpecting prey. Who would have thought that this cuttlefishes hunting style would be as flamboyant as his revered colours. The ocean never ceases to surprise me.