Deep sea diver Tabitha Jacobs-Mangiafico is one of the few people to have seen something extraordinary not far from Whidbey – a tiny, recently discovered species of octopus.
During a recent summer night, the Langley resident was diving in Burrows Bay on Fidalgo Island when she saw an octopus smaller than the size of her fist, called a muusoctopus for its lack of ink sac.
Jacobs-Mangiafico was fortunate enough to capture the smooth skin octopus with her camera.
“My whole goal is that everyone can learn a little bit and become a little bit better steward for our environment, because everything is connected,” she said.
Alan Verde, a marine biology professor at the Corning School of Ocean Studies, will be leading a presentation at the upcoming Sound Waters University about this species of octopus and two others that inhabit the area near the Coupeville ferry terminal.
Giant Pacific octopuses are fond of red crabs, which are prolific near Driftwood Park on Whidbey Island. Verde captured an octopus of this species for the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, which was partially named after him. Ruby octopuses, the other species near Driftwood Park, use bottles that have been tossed from boats and the shore as their dens.
Verde’s octopus presentation for Sound Waters University on Saturday, Feb. 5 is aptly titled “Release the Kraken!!! The Biology, Ecology, and Physiology of a True Alien Life Form.”
Sound Waters University is an annual one-day educational conference on all things relating to the Salish Sea and its surroundings. This is its 28th year and the theme is “Hope in Action.”
Other presentation topics include humpback whales, native pollinators and anemones.
For the second year in a row, the event is online. General admission is $60, with 50% off for students, teachers, military service members and Americorps members. Some financial hardship scholarships are also available to help offset the cost.
Participants will pick three of nine webinars led by local experts to attend, plus two keynote speaker presentations. The recordings of every single class will be accessible after the event.
Opening remarks begin at 8:30 a.m. The last class of the day ends at 3:15 p.m.
Jacobs-Mangiafico, who also happens to be the Whidbey coordinator for Sound Water Stewards of Island County, said last year’s event had 542 virtual attendees, with people attending from all over the nation.
“You don’t need to be in the area and you can be anywhere you want,” she said.