Thursday, January 26, 2006

Giant Pacific Octopus Attacks ROV

Octopus tries to make sub sandwich


VICTORIA -- A giant Pacific octopus that attacked a remotely operated submarine off north Vancouver Island could have been senile or maybe just peckish, said a marine biologist yesterday.

"Large male octopuses in the last part of their lives become senescent, or senile," said Jim Cosgrove of the Royal B.C. Museum.

"They get to be like humans, doddering old fools that have inappropriate behaviours such as being out in the daytime," said Cosgrove, an expert in octopus behaviour, adding that it was probably trying to determine if the sub was edible.

The attack occurred on Nov. 18, 2005, off Brooks Peninsula, on the northwest coast of the island.

The Seaeye submarine was 55 metres below the surface. Mike Wood was on a boat on the surface, guiding it along the ocean floor while looking for electronic receivers that detect salmon.

"I had the ROV [remotely operated vehicle] with its manipulator claw attached on a ground rope," Wood said.

A tentacle shot forward very quickly and wrapped itself around the sub's manipulator claw, prompting Wood to immediately throw the sub into reverse and blast the octopus with sand and debris from the ocean floor.

On the video, the octopus whips its tentacles around as it tries to deal with the sub's counterattack.

"Eventually, it releases the vehicle and it gets blasted off into the distance," said Wood. The octopus was not injured, he said.

The Province, Page A28, 26-Jan-2006


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