In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, the Giant Pacific Octopuses that live in Puget Sound became television stars as World Champion Octopus Wrestling took the stage. All eyes, literal and electronic turned to the Pacific Northwest.
There was the story of a giant octopus that lived beneath the Narrows Bridge. Closer to home, Ron Frederick, now Mayor of DuPont, assisted his father, Steilacoom resident Karl Frederick in the hunt for the great octopus, and in the accompanying picture, from The Suburban Times in April 1964, the caption says that the octopus they caught weighed 50 pounds.
It took a few years for fans to realize that the great octopuses did not wish to wrestle. They wished to be left alone in their quiet holes, and Octopus wrestling gradually disappeared along with the shy octopods. Catching the Giant Pacific Octopus was banned in several locations.
To quote me, in True Tales of Puget Sound, “As people began to understand more about octopuses, attitudes changed. Thousands of people signed petitions to make the areas where octopuses were being taken into protected areas. Hood Canal, from which the wrestlers pulled record setting giant octopuses, is now the Puget Sound’s largest octopus preservation area.”
Here are the areas where octopus hunting is prohibited in case you were considering it:
- Tacoma’s Les Davis Fishing Pier
- Tacoma’s Days Island Wall
- West Seattle’s Seacrest Park Coves
- West Seattle’s Alki Beach Junk Yard
- Burien’s Three Tree Point
- Des Moines’ Redondo Beach
- Deception Pass north of Oak Harbor
And then today, Cynthia Endicott, Fircrest Yoga Instructor sent me a picture of an adorable teeny tiny octopus that, she notes, is too small to wrestle. It looks like it weighs about 6 ounces. I do hope it’s too small to eat, too. Cynthia assured me that the fisherman, who did not give his name, released the adorable baby octopus, and the era of Octopus Wrestling on Puget Sound is officially over.
Note: If you’re interested in the story of the Octopus Wrestlers of Puget Sound, you’ll find it in my book, True Tales of Puget Sound.
Dorothy Wilhelm is a humorist and writer. Hear her podcast, Swimming Upstream at www.itsnevertoolate.com/