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PHOTO: Hungry Red Octopus Tries to Catch Crab at Linda Mar Beach

Look what a kayaker pulled up when crabbing off Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica. Photo by Lincoln Allen
Look what a kayaker pulled up when crabbing off Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica. Photo by Lincoln Allen

Pacifica resident Lincoln Allen snapped this photo of an “unexpected passenger” that attached itself to a crab cage of a kayaker crabbing off shore at Linda Mar Beach this week.

At first he couldn't tell what it was when he saw the cage with the octopus attached to it, the kayaker told a crowd forming on the beach. But when he realized it was an octopus, he reached down and pulled it to the surface and into his kayak.

“He said in his many years of crabbing here that this was only the second time he had surfaced an octopus,” said Allen.

Octopuses are mollusks without shells. A red octopus’s normal color is red or reddish brown, but like other octopuses it can change quickly — in a fraction of a second — to yellow, brown, white, red or a variety of mottled colors, according to information on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.

An octopus usually forages at night, collecting several specimens — most commonly crabs, clams, and other mussels — before retreating to its den, where it eats at leisure. But since crabs are an octopus’s favorite food, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, perhaps this one couldn’t resist trying for a bite during the day. The octopus kills its prey with venom secreted from its salivary glands, then cracks the shell with its sharp beak.

Researchers consider octopuses to be the most intelligent invertebrates — maybe as intelligent as a house cat. The Monterey Bay Aquarium recommends not touching red octopuses since they have sharp beaks and are inclined to bite and then spit venom on the wound. Healing from an octopus bite might take three weeks.

The kayaker released the octopus back into the ocean after a few minutes of marveling at such a rare find.


jim sullivan December 06, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Glad to see the Octopus was released, and that some more unscrupulous crabber didn't pull the sea creature up and take it home to eat.
Pacificat December 06, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I haven't been able to eat octopus ever since I learned that they can recognize individual humans and even grow attached to them. They also play games, can learn symbols, and use tools. They may be smarter than your dog. I hope I don't learn that squid are also intelligent. There goes my calamari and yum pla muk. http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/16639112876/did-you-know-that-giant-pacific-octopuses-get
Hutch December 06, 2013 at 07:40 PM
While I would have thrown it back also I don't see anything wrong with a person taking an octopus legally. That said, we have a lot of poaching going on in Pacifica, on the pier and beaches. I think we used to have a volunteer checking and working with Fish & Game. Like to see that started up again.

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