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June 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 42, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Animals Snatching Cameras

from the June, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The Melbourne Herald reported a bizarre underwater crime, when a massive octopus stole a GoPro from an Australian scuba diver, disappearing into a hole in the sea bed and leaving 23-year-old Alanah Kilner both shocked and impressed.

She wasn't sure whether to report her camera stolen or lost -- but she is desperate to get it back, saying the recording from the probably still-operating camera in the arms of the octopus might be "epic."

Kilner was diving in only 10 feet of water with a buddy, hoping to spot an orange octopus that had been seen days earlier by some fellow divers. "I saw its eye through a hole in the carpet [of weed] on the sea bed -- and it came out all of a sudden," she said. "I was holding the GoPro and its tentacles just came right out and grabbed it from my hand. Perhaps it was attracted to the red light on the camera."

Ms. Kilner's Facebook post about the theft has attracted incredulous comments, with one witty friend advising, "Octopuses are pretty smart -- you might be able to buy it back from him on eBay."

There have been other instances of shiny things being grabbed by marine life. John Bantin was photographing a giant moray eel in the Red Sea with a housed compact camera when it grabbed the glittering Perspex housing from his hand and retreated back into a hole in the reef. He got it back later.

More recently, a large tiger shark, a regular visitor to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, has taken to grabbing expensive camera rigs with shiny dome ports and swimming off with them. Divers from Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas and Jim Abernethy's Scuba-Adventures have experienced this. It gets more serious if it grabs a diver's tank and swims off with that, something that has happened more than once and is described in Bantin's book, Shark Bytes.

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