An Exotic Catch

Levi hoding up an Octopus in Sitka, AlaskaAs a world-renowned Alaskan fishing lodge, Alaska Premier Charters, Inc. and the Wild Strawberry Lodge specialize in salmon and halibut, but not exclusively. Although they are prevalent, I’ve also become accustomed to finding surprising catch in the processing room. After having read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and spending way too much time watching ocean life documentaries, I have both been terrified and impressed with the Giant Pacific Octopus and on the 26th of May, the catch from my imagination came to life. I just so happened to already be in the processing room when a deckhand strolled in, completely itching to share the contents of his bucket with the processing crew.

Octopus in a bucketI was expecting something more generic, but nonetheless exciting, when he blurted out the word “octopus.” Immediately, I dropped everything I was working on to gawk. There really couldn’t be an octopus in there; I just knew I had to be the butt of yet another prank. But fortunately, he was in fact, telling the truth, as outrageous as it might have seemed. The processors crowded around the bucket and everyone proclaimed that they would hold it, none of us actually ballsy enough to do more than prod it with a gloved finger. I had to borrow someone’s orange glove because I have learned not to touch things here unless you know perfectly well that it isn’t dangerous. I gently swiped my finger across one of its suction cupped tentacles, retreating almost instantly when it started to latch onto my finger. It reminded me of a childhood instance in which my father dared me to hold a leech. Let’s just say that it did what leeches do, so now I fear squirmy things that lurk under the water. Realizing that I had reached my adventurous peak, the processors decided to haul it from the shallow depths of the bucket and let me see its full worth.

Crew holding an Alaskan octopusApparently, the angler who brought it to the surface thought he’d just hooked the anchor. The octopus had been stuck so tightly to the ocean floor, or maybe even a rock that it seemed like an immovable object. After cranking on the rod for a while, he felt the pressure lighten up and imagined that he’d just been dislodged. Imagine his surprise when he saw an octopus gradually floating to the surface. The deckhands went to pull it over the side of the vessel, but the sneaky octopus had decided on a last-ditch effort for freedom and plastered itself to the underside of the boat. Becoming once again an immovable object, the octopus would surely have regained his freedom if not for the tenacity of the angler and the cunning of the crew.

Knowing that the time for action would be short, the crew and angler waited for the octopus to tire of his hideaway and drop back to the ocean depths. They then quickly scooped him up before he could reattach to the boat, posing for a few pictures before placing their prize in the bucket that I first encountered him in.

~Tori N.

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