Underwater Photo Essay: Cephalopods of Philippines

Dauin is one of my favorite places in the world to dive. Not just my favorite in the Philippines, where there are tons of amazing dive locations, but the entire world.

Every time I visit Dauin, I see something new and interesting, and there have been many firsts. Firsts such as flamboyant cuttlefish, hairy frogfish, blue ring octopus, wonderpus and many many more. The list is long.

My two favorite times to dive in Dauin, is frogfish season and cephalopod season, where you can see even more of those respective species; maybe more than anywhere in the world.

When ever I dive in Dauin, my favorite dive buddy is Dan from Atmosphere Dive Resort. Dan is an instructor, a marine biologist, and one incredible photographer. He also has a knack for finding critters that are incredibly hard to see!

We make quite a team underwater, with me filming and him shooting pics and finding the creatures. Well, really its me spending way too much time trying to get my camera to focus on some tiny fish, and him wandering around waiting.

This photo essay is an example of Dan’s great work, as well as a glimpse of what you can see in this amazing muck diving destination in the Philippines.

Amazing Cephalopods of Philippines

For me, finding these flamboyant cuttlefish for the first time was my Holy Grail. I told them I was on a mission to see my first, and they took me straight to 3! After that I have seen many around Dauin, from tiny to big, and I never get tired of them.

They are known as both the smallest of all cuttles, but also the only toxic ones. They are also the only ones I’ve seen that prefer to use their fins to walk along the bottom, or sometimes hop. Now that I think of it, Ive never even seen one swimming!

Ive seen them the size of a finger nail, to the size of a baseball, and each of them is incredible. Not to mention they aren’t as shy as most octopus or cuttles, making them a photographer’s dream.

This is the blue ring octopus, and for many divers or underwater photographers, the octopus on top of the critter bucket list. I have only seen a few of these tiny, toxic guys, and when I do they are incredibly shy and hard to film.

In fact they are so shy that I have to give Dan huge props for getting these great shots. I still haven’t come close.

You can see how small this blue ring octopus was in the last photo, in comparison to a Philippines 10 peso coin. I’m still shocked Dan was able to pull this off with such a shy and elusive critter.

These coconut octopus will hide in anything! I’ve seen them build houses out of coconut shells, tin cans, glass bottles, clam shells, and one even tried to  steal my camera! I love finding these guys.

I am pretty sad to say, but the mimic and wonderpus have so far eluded me. They are common in Dauin and other philippines and indonesia locations, and even other divers on my same dives have seen them, but I haven’t been lucky. yet.

You are almost guaranteed to see ocelot, matte and coconut octopus in Dauin, especially in season. They are some of my favorite because they are never bigger than a fist, and normally much smaller! So cute.

A bobtail squid! These guys are so hilarious. They love to bury themselves in the sand and I once filmed one bury itself, then reach out one tentacle and wipe the sand off his eye so that he could see. It was hilarious to watch, and also to see only eyes poking out of the sand.

I haven’t se a whole lot of bobtail squid while scuba diving in Philippines, but when I do its always laugh.

And lets not forget squid. I always see these guys feeding during a night dive, and they always seem to be dazzled by my lights, and stay around to pose. At least for a minute, before jetting away in a cloud of ink.

This is just a taste of what I experience every time I visit Dauin in the Philippines. The scuba diving is so good that it is one of the rare locations where I continue to return over and over. Ia more of those divers that prefers these macro, mysterious critters over dolphins and big stuff, so Dauin is the perfect spot.

About the Photographer:

Daniel Geary grew up in Florida and has fostered a love of the ocean ever since he was a few years old. He has been diving for nine years and photographing for the last four years. He currently lives in Dauin, Philippines and works at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa as an in-house marine biologist, underwater photographer, and PADI dive instructor. He is one of the world’s few frogfish experts and teaches an exclusive PADI Frogfish Specialist course. Daniel continually promotes environmentally-friendly dive and photography practices, especially not manipulating animals for photos.

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Justin Carmack
Justin is a dive master and world traveler on a mission to dive and document the top 100 dive sites in the world. In doing this he hopes to bring love for the marine environment to the world!

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