Octopus Week 2002: Octopus Weighing
By Phillip Takeuchi
I have just taken a job in Portland, Oregon and have an apartment in Beaverton... and yes I STILL work at the Seattle Aquarium! The people and work are worth it. Anyhow, the day starts after leaving Union, WA. That's right, 100 miles away. I awake early and pack my dive gear. This week less a BCD due to 15 years of use. Guess I just have to do a hooka. Anyway on the way north on I-5 I chug a Coke to help me keep going after a long workweek. I arrive only to find out that there is a special event going on today, the release of Sabrina the octopus. TV and tons of people are on hand for the event. To make this even more special is the fact that my dive buddy Steve Stearns is going to Thailand for a sabbatical that he may not return from. He was captivated during his last trip there and now will spend his time on the beach soaking up the rays and enjoying the easy life for awhile. I have been hearing about it for months and I'm green with envy or should I say blue with Pacific NW cold waters. I clock in and read the many messages from Sue and proceed to check in with Roland only to find Jeff here on a Saturday. (My first clue something is up) I chat with both of them to see what is new and then I bump into Frankie and find out what kind of treat she has saved for the divers. She is awesome and her cooking is too! This week it's three lemon cookies and three sugar cookies rolled up in a paper towel and labeled. For Steve it's a care package for six months. More divers arrive to release the octopus and tape the event while I go through my pre-dive routine. Look there's Bert (Roberta) and Guy. Long time dive buddies. Now we only cross paths at the Volunteer Picnic once a year and they still have one of my spare masks from about three years ago. We catch up and I set forth to gear up for the octopus weighing that normally has a small crowd. It's 12:50 and Roland, Steve and I start our walk to the octopus tank. Bert is going along with us today to take some pictures of the event and promises to Roland that she will send copies to him. As we enter the building, we see the area is packed. We enter the back area and Steve puts on his dry gloves, hood and weight belt. Roland goes up the ladder and then Steve, Bert and I. Before Steve enters the water I put in the ladder and Roland starts his talk about octopuses and gets a plug in for the T-shirt he is sporting for Octopus Week. Meanwhile, Bert snaps a few pictures for the old scrapbook. Steve (the expert) gets an introduction from Roland and then goes in and cleans up after the octopus. He then gets ready for the main event. This week the octopus is in one of the back corners. Not the usual in front which is much easier to get the octopus into the garbage can. While this is going on, Roland says a few facts about the octopus and lets the audience know why we use a garbage can without holes, a typical question. After a couple attempts/breaths Steve comes up with the octopus. Good job! The crowd gets a little excited when the octopus attempts to get out while Steve empties out the excess water. He weighs 80 pounds this week. Only 20 lbs. to go to get the 100 lb. mark that Roland seeks. Steve lets out the octopus with oohs and ahh's as the octopus spreads out and seeks refuge from Steve. We walk back through the dome to give our talk. A few kids and adults along the way point at Steve and say "There goes the octopus man!" We joke about what kind of email address can be derived from octopus man. After our talk I get ready to go on hooka and we talk about what he is going to do between his last day at work and his trip to Thailand. Good Luck Steve!