On Wednesday Oct 31 at approximately 4:45pm two individuals emerged from the waters of Alki Cove 2 (1660 Harbor Avenue Southwest, Seattle, WA 98116) clutching a Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO), the world's largest species of octopus.
Photos courtesy Mark S.
The octopus was clearly in distress and fighting, but the divers repeatedly struck the mantle and then carried it up the beach and to the parking lot, writhing and squirming, where it was unceremoniously thrown into the back of a red Ford pickup truck.
Several local divers including Bob B. and Mark S. confronted the captors and and began asking questions. The individuals clearly did not care that they had just taken a beautiful octopus from one of the most popular dive sites in the state of Washington. The divers tried to reason with the hunters and explained that people come from all over the world to this site to see these GPOS. Even more disturbingly they claimed that this particular specimen was currently protecting her eggs. Update: recent evidence suggests that was (thankfully) not a female GPO protecting her eggs and that this statement was untrue. Nevertheless, there is a long history of GPOs in cove 2 depositing their approximately 50,000-100,000 eggs on the ceiling of their den and protecting them without leaving for the 6 month gestation period. If a mother is taken, the eggs will not survive to hatch and an entire potential generation of future octopus are lost.
Known for its intelligence and gracefulness, the giant pacific octopus is truly a pacific northwest icon, and we as a community must take action to protect this species and the fragile ecosystem of Alki Cove 2. If you've never seen this amazing creature up close and personal, please watch this video by our friends at Seaingreen. Please contact me if you are interested in joining our campaign to protect the GPO population at cove 2 and implement changes in the current laws surrounding GPO harvesting statewide.
What is a Giant Pacific Octopus? from Seainggreen on Vimeo.
For more images, please visit the following gallery: http://www.raptureofthedeep.net/gpo