Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cthulu-like Octopus In Ohio River?


"Octopus pulled from Ohio River"

(c)By Grace Schneider
The Courier-Journal

David Stepp was fishing for catfish with friends on the Ohio River Monday night when he reeled in a bizarre catch — an octopus.

It was dead, but only recently.

Recognizing that nobody would ever believe he had actually caught the creature, the 20-year-old Jeffersonville man loaded it into the trunk of his car and showed it minutes later to a Clarksville police officer and Bill Putt, a park ranger at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Putt snapped photos, and Stepp and his surprised companions posed with the purplish-brown animal, which measured six feet from the tip of one tentacle to the other.

It was three and half feet tall when dangled like mop above the ground.

“It was really pretty big,” said Putt, who later deposited the octopus in a park freezer, figuring a marine biologist might want to examine it.

Although he’s seen more than his share of exotic animals turn up at the Southern Indiana park across from downtown Louisville, Putt said he was extremely skeptical when a fellow angler said that someone had caught an octopus below the dam.

“I thought, ‘This guy’s got to be drunk,’ ” Putt said. But “we looked at it and that’s what it was.”

The octopus might take the prize for weird discoveries at the falls, where park crews and visitors have found crocodiles and piranha-like tropical fish over the years — animals probably kept as pets and released by owners into the river and onto river banks.

Octopods are highly intelligent as invertebrates go, according to an article on the National Wildlife Foundation’s Web site.

They are sometimes kept as pets and surprise their owners by escaping from seemingly secure tanks “due to their intelligence and problem-solving skills,” the entry said.

Because they live in salt water oceans, they don’t survive long in fresh water such as the Ohio River, Putt said.

It’s not illegal to own the animals, but releasing it into the wild is, said Mark Farmer, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“Who’s to say somebody didn’t toss it into the river?” Farmer said. “I found out a long time ago, you never know what’s going to turn up.”

Reporter Grace Schneider can be reached at (812) 949-4040.

** Today, blogger is not taking embedded pix. If the pic disappears, I will come back later and embed it. For right now, it is an img src.

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