You may think it strange that for my birthday, I wished for a blue-ringed octopus. Despite the fact that last week I patted a rhinoceros and a madagascan tree boa, hand-fed three giraffes and spent quality time with a cheetah (you can read all about my extraordinary Birthday Week in my next Bucket List post!), it had been almost two years since I had seen a blue-ringed occy, and something within me yearned for another close encounter.
No, despite being entirely at peace with my terminal diagnosis, I do not have some sort of perverted death-wish. Like sharks, blue-ringed octopuses are much maligned. While their blue rings glow brightly as a warning to anyone who may venture too close, they are not intent upon using their venom unless compelled to for self-defence. In my experience, blue-ringed octopuses are super-sweet, gentle, timid little souls. Without their deadly venom, I fear their distinct lack of courage would make them absolutely powerless against anything which might harm them, whether intentionally or accidentally. The last time I encountered blue-ringed octopuses, I actually saw three in a single dive, each one trying without success to remain entirely inconspicuous and hidden from human view. I felt like I had won the trifecta! (Alas, I cannot for the life of me find the blue-ring photo I wanted to share with you here, so here’s a random anemone from this dive instead …)
Although my best buddy LP and I used to dive Blairgowrie Pier almost weekly, it has been quite some time since this pier has been our first choice for our weekend adventures (like all good things in excess, perhaps we had begun to take it for granted). Yet for the two weekends which bookended my Birthday Week, the constraints of weather conditions led us back to our favourite old underwater haunt for my Dives 312 and 313 which delivered birthday critters galore! How privileged we were to encounter a tiny white octopus, resting inside the mouth of a bottle, a large brown octopus lazing atop of its rusted tin can, small stingrays and banjo sharks, a pair of amorous sea stars, several of the exquisite nudibranchs that Blairgowrie is famous for, and more.
But the moment LP pointed out the tiny grey octopus crawling across the sandy bottom – her rings glowing steadily brighter once she knew with certainty that she had been detected – I knew that birthday wishes do indeed come true. According to my oncology team, the birthday I have just had may well be my last, so you would be correct in thinking that my blue-ringed occy encounter may not have been my only birthday wish 🙂 It is no secret that I deeply wish for hundreds more days and dives. I wish to exchange all of my wishes for fishes and to trade in all the birthday wishes of my uncertain future for whale sharks, tiger sharks and – against all odds! – to one day encounter an elusive blanket octopus on one of my underwater adventures. (That’s my Bucket List. Legend has it that you cannot kick the proverbial bucket while it still contains unfulfilled dreams, so for as long as I live I will keep adding extraordinary critters onto my list 😀 )
But at the same time, I am contented. For my birthday, I whispered a wish for a blue-ringed octopus. And out of nowhere one appeared to wish me a lifetime of joy, no matter how long or short that life may prove to be. Regardless of my circumstances, I am joyful, and filled to overflowing with awe-inspired gratitude. Every breath underwater or on land is an intense blessing that I will never take for granted.
I am so excited to share with you the rest of my amazing Birthday Week adventures (as well as several other films from my recent expedition to the Solomon Islands, including my Dive 300!) over the coming weeks. All in all, I had nine Birthday Adventures over the past week – if this does prove to be my last birthday, I’m determined to go out with a blissful bang 😉 To cap it all off, I am very honoured to be featured in the Australian ‘Nature and Health’ magazine in its Feb-March edition. To those of you who have found your way here because of this article, I extended the warmest of welcomes and hope that you will enjoy some of the other underwater and Bucket List adventures I would love to share with you on this blog 🙂 And please feel free to follow my posts on the Pink Tank Scuba Facebook page 🙂
My friends, life – despite all its many challenges – is an absolute pleasure. And it is my purest privilege to have you along for the journey.
Love and Birthday Bubbles,