Thursday, June 18, 2015

Giant Pacific Octopus

Have you heard stories about the giant octopus living in the Puget Sound under the Narrows Bridge?  Did you know that back in 1963 the World Octopus Wrestling Championships were held at Titlow Park?  Scuba divers frequently gather in Titlow Park for lessons, and for exploring the remains of Galloping Gertie.  During the Championship the contestants dived anywhere from 30 to 50 feet to explore the ruins and to try to grab the giant Pacific octopuses out of a cave or the other places the octopuses had made a home.    Approximately 5000 people watched 111 divers in this contest.

The wrestling part is loosening the octopus who has firmly gripped the cave with its suction cups and arms.  According to Gary Keffler, a former diver and one of the organizers of the event, “They have good suction, but if you get their arms and pull, the suction cups go pop, pop, pop.  You roll around, staging that you’re fighting him; they’re not very aggressive.”

But not all encounters with octopuses are as entertaining as the following will reveal.

    Here's an explanation of the four attachments to this email:

    One of the downsides to finding history bits in old newspapers is that the news is almost always bad.  Good news doesn't make headlines very often.  Here are two stories of sea monsters encountered by Gig Harbor fishermen.  One is a puzzle and the other a tragedy.

    In 1907 a 700 pound sea monster caught in the net of a local fisherman merited a one paragraph story on page 20 of the Seattle Sunday Times.  In 1922 news of the death of a Gig Harbor fisherman dragged under water by a giant octopus was given a front page banner headline above the masthead.  Considering the dramatic headline, the article was quite short.  The news service wire story sent around the country was more detailed.  

As for the 700-Pound Monster, I could find no identification for such a fish.  A Lingcod  has a long eel-like body, and grows to 5 feet as well as weighing over 100-pounds.  However I was unable to find any record of a 700-pounder.

There is a picture of Giant Pacific Octopus (Enterotopus dofleini) on the National Geographic site.

Albert O. Garness (1904-1922) and is buried in the Gig Harbor Cemetery with other members of the Garness Family.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up on the "Narrows" Tacoma, WA. I remember the "Octopus wrestling" contests during the 1950's and 1960's. They were held at Titlow Beach and Salmon Beach communities. My high school friend, Mike, use to participate in these contests. I have eaten lots of octopus in my life. But, it wasn't until the sushi rage that they became acceptable to eat.