A mouth full of tentacles. Photo by Michael Francisco (Click to enlarge)

A mouth full of tentacles. Photo by Michael Francisco (Click to enlarge)

Following the 2015 Avalon Underwater Cleanup on Catalina Island, a group of us decided to make a night dive in the Casino Point dive park. Conditions were exceptional that evening.

Gliding over the seemingly endless field of invasive sargassum, we meandered out to the wreck of the Sujac and back. Intent on shooting macro images, I was unprepared for what came as I was about to exit the dive. Just a few feet from the stairway, I was startled by a rather large fish that came barreling towards me with something writhing in its mouth. I quickly raised the camera and somehow fired off one shot. With my camera set entirely to manual, and using a non-TTL strobe, I did not expect to capture a good photograph. Only after I saw the fish, a Cabezon, emerge out of a cloud of ink did I realize that it was an octopus that it had held in its jaws.

The Cabezon settled in a crevice inches away from of me, while the octopus was nowhere to be seen. It had made its escape. I lingered for a few minutes snapping fish portraits of the hungry critter before surfacing. Later that evening, after offloading the photos to my iPad, I was giddy with excitement when I saw this image. I felt extremely lucky not only that the shot turned out, but to have witnessed such an epic interaction between predator and prey.

Photo shot with a Canon G16 in a Fantasea housing with an Intova ISS 4000 strobe. f/6.3, 1/250sec, ISO 800

Photo by Michael Francisco. Michael is a dive instructor for Wet Dog Scuba & Photo in Irvine, CA.

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