Friday, August 11, 2006

Octopus Update

The Courier-Journal

An octopus hooked in the Ohio River by a fisherman had been put there by a film student who bought it at a seafood store and videotaped the creature.

Zachary Treitz, 21, of Crescent Hill in Louisville, said he bought the octopus -- dead and frozen -- for $26 and put it in the river after shooting the video Sunday for a film project.

Treitz, a film major at Boston University, contacted The Courier-Journal late Wednesday to say he was responsible for putting the octopus into the river.

The 6-foot-wide octopus created a sensation when David Stepp, 20, of Jeffersonville, Ind., reeled it in Monday night while angling for catfish below the dam at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Indiana conservation officers speculated that someone had kept it as a pet and then released it in the river. Octopuses live in salt water and can't survive for long in fresh water.

Treitz bought the octopus from the Seafood Connection in St. Matthews and considered eating it after using it in the film. But it began to give off a fishy odor, he said, so he and three filmmaking friends put it in the Ohio below the dam.

They also filmed its launch, showing how it slipped off a boulder into the water. They watched as it swirled in the river's eddies and disappeared from view.

"I thought it might just float down the river to Paducah, or become fish food," Treitz said.

Treitz said the publicity about the octopus was surprising and disconcerting. He said he came forward in part because he wanted people to know that the octopus was never alive in his possession.

"It was very dead by the time we threw it in," he said.

He said it seemed like a harmless act because "there's so much more harmful things" floating in the river.

At the Seafood Connection, the story produced curiosity among customers.

At least 20 called or dropped by, asking where they could get an octopus -- and how to prepare it, said owner Brendan Mullaney.

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

See the movie (as long as it is on-line) here.

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