Sea creature washes ashore

A Giant Pacific Octopus died Monday.

Suspicion is growing over how the 6-foot-long enteroctopus dofleini met its demise. Its body was found approximately 10 meters off shore, near the airplane at City Beach Park.

Some, such as Keith Ludemann, an environmental education specialist at Fort Casey, think the orange-hued creature simply died as the result of an amorous adventure. If it were a male, the prime suspect would be the partner, as male octopuses die within 48 hours of mating.

“When they mate, they die,” Ludemann said.

Mating is also fatal for the female. She must tend to her eggs 24 hours per day, meaning she does not eat during the five to seven month gestation period.

Information was not immediately available as to the sex of the octopus.

What officials do know, however, is that nothing really stands out about this case, making a determination of the cause of death difficult.

“Six-foot really isn’t that big,” Ludemann said. “Twelve foot is considered average. The biggest I’ve had in my lab was 16 feet.”

Oak Harbor’s Harbormaster Dave Williams said that he was unaware of the octopus’s presence in the area.

“If you would have asked me if there was an octopus around here, I would have told you no,” he said.

He has seen some other creatures that seemed out of their element in the marina. It is not rare for a seal pup to appear, but that has not happened for approximately four years, he said. Reports also have surfaced about a large ray patrolling the harbor.

“We’re not normally blessed with any exotic sea creatures in here,” Williams said.

Witnesses at the scene examined the dead animal for evidence of foul play. Carly Hall moved the tentacles to look at the beak, which is used for drilling holes into the shells of crabs or bivalves for food. Carly’s brother, Stevie, was put off by the site.

“It’s really gross,” he said. “I think I touched its brain.”

Ludemann said that it is OK for the average person to do their own inspection of this kind of death.

“You don’t want to take it in or try to forage it for food,” he said. “It’ll just go back to nature; the crabs’ll eat it and the birds will pick at it.”

The beast was not out of its element in the city areas of Oak Harbor. Commonly found nestled in rock outcroppings, the large creatures can take refuge nearly anywhere. Several are thought to live around the area of the old pier,” Ludemann said.

“Wherever there’s crab, they’re happy,” he said.

If searching for a prime example, a 23-foot-long specimen is rumored to inhabit a jetty near Fort Casey.

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