It is said that once you visit the underwater world beneath our waves, there is no coming back. NATIV speaks to Joan Pereyra, the man who has swapped his working life on terra firma, for one down in the deep.
We have all seen the Netflix documentary ‘The Octopus Teacher’ that documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest. Well meet Ibiza’s very own diver of the deep Joan Pereyra, a man who graduated in Veterinary Medicine but for the last three years has swapped his office gown for a neoprene suit and camera. “I have never seen ‘The Octopus Teacher’ laughs Joan, “but I do know this much, I have dived all over the world in many oceans but nothing beats the Mediterranean. Every day I see something that leaves me speechless.”
2022 has been an important year for Joan thanks to his daily search for new species of sea slugs in Ibiza waters – 89 to date, which is why he is the talk of the local marine world. But it’s his adventures with an octopus and her eggs that has kept us all glued to his social media recently; ”I discovered the female at the start of the summer” says Joan. “She was in a small cave protecting her eggs and I started to visit her at different times of day. Just like humans, every octopus has it’s own personality and mannerisms and I found she was more welcoming to me in the afternoons, allowing me to get close and take photographs as she relaxed in my company. Incubation takes between one and three months but within days I could see the baby octopus inside the eggs, it was at this point she became nervous.”
There are many predators in our waters and some come in surprising form. “One afternoon she began to get very nervous inside the cave, shaking her legs. Turning round I saw two grouper fish swimming beside me with obvious bad intentions. At that moment the octopus came out of the hole to grab a large flat rock and in seconds she had barricaded herself in her cave. It was no coincidence the rock fitted so well, she had it ready for emergencies.”
Joan’s passion for what lies beneath has taken him around the world with many special moments; “One of the most interesting dives was is in the Galapagos on Darwin Island where I was among hundreds of sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. But the marine life in the Mediterranean is what I like the most – we will not find large fish or brightly coloured corals, but the Posidonia meadows contain an immense amount of life including fascinating nudibranchs and opisthobranchs.”
As tourism continues to grow here, as do the pleasure boats that congest the waters around the islands. It is a fact of life that does not go unnoticed to Joan; “Our rules we lay down must be respected so that the incredible aquatic biodiversity can survive. If we all contribute our grain of sand, then we will be able to preserve this enchanting world. My mission of an underwater photographer is to show the general public the wonders we have, so that they are respected and can last forever…”