Handling an octopus: urban legend?

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Pygmy Octopus
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As some of you have learned from my previous posts, I am an avid scuba diver in the Seattle area, where we have two common species of octopus (E. dofleini and O. rubescens). Encountering either species is ALWAYS a treat, although not at all uncommon, as we usually see at least one on every dive we do.

On rare occasions, however, we get lucky and have a physical interaction with one. That's such a treat! Every time this has happened for me, I will place my hand next to the octo and allow it, if it is so inclined, to explore my gloved had and drysuit. That means that I always have allowed the octopus to initiate contact with me, instead of me grabbing it.

I have heard rumored that it's very bad for the octopus for a diver to touch the octopus - that apparently the octopuses have a mucous coating that a diver's glove (especially neoprene) can damage, which could harm the octo. :(

Can anyone definitively say if that is true or not? Any advice on handling an octopus underwater? I am unconcerned about being bitten - I have never seen an octopus behave in a way I would consider to be aggressive, and I guess if I do get bit I deserve the consequences and accept that as a risk (and I don't think an O. rubescens could bite through my glove or suit anyway.... though I am certain a GPO could).

Anyway - I love the encounters I have with them in the wild, but would hate it if I was accidentally harming one of them.

Any advice?

TIA.

-david
 

corw314

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Any pictures??? Would love to see!!!

Carol
 

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