Our oceans are full of mystery and magnificent creatures. They continually amaze us with their intelligence and understanding.
We have long thought of ourselves as being the only species with the capacity for complex thought, but if we truly pay attention to the animals around us, we can see that they are smarter than we give them credit for.
These scuba divers have descended to 70 feet below the waves and perched on a ledge near Darwin’s Arch, one of the most famous dive sites in the Galapagos Islands.
They have come to see hammerhead sharks and whale sharks that cruise past these islands on the ocean currents. They will watch as if they are in front of the world’s biggest IMAX screen.
As the divers sat and watched, a Mexican hogfish decided to hang around with them too. It swam around and looked at them curiously. It even swam under one of the divers when hammerhead sharks were close.
It seemed to fully understand that humans were nothing to be frightened of. But then it did something very surprising. One of the divers noticed that the fish was staring at a small rock and then staring at her.
The fish moved back and forth to her and then to the rock in front of her hands. The fish was acting so oddly that the diver beside her began to film the fish instead of looking for whale sharks and hammerheads.
It first appeared that the fish liked the diver. Eventually realizing that the fish was returning to the same rock repeatedly, she wondered if something under the rock was making the fish excited.
As she reached out to lift the rock, the fish darted in front of it and stared intently. To her surprise, as she lifted the rock, she found a baby octopus underneath.
This was a thrilling sight for the divers and it was obvious that the fish had seen or smelled the creature hiding beneath the rock. It was also possible that the octopus had been eating something that smelled interesting to the Mexican hogfish.
The octopus was far too big for the hogfish to eat, so it merely watched as the divers filmed it out in the open.
Fish become used to divers very quickly and they often understand that humans will not try to harm them, but to try to communicate with a diver and signal to a diver that something is under a rock would require more complex thought and understanding than we once believed they were capable of.
If the fish was truly hoping that the diver would lift the rock, that’s even more surprising. Yet, we see this sort of behavior constantly between groupers and scuba divers who spear hunt for lionfish.
The groupers will actually locate the lionfish and stare into the hiding spots until the diver responds. The more we pay attention to the animals around us, the more we see that we have a lot to learn about them.