TONS of octopus...

CaptFish

Colossal Squid
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#1
At the start of the month lobster season began. Ever since it started i have pretty much spent every waking hour in search of the delicious beast. One of the more fun ways that we go lobstering is called 'Bully netting' We do this by taking a small flat bottom boat, rig it with an electric motor a small generator and about 2000 watts of regular flood lights, I use 4 250 watt lights above water and two 500 watt lights under water. We then take the boat to the areas of Biscayne Bay that have very shallow water with large grass flats, usually 1-4 feet deep. Then we basically drive slowly over the flats and scoop up the bugs when you see them.

In all the years i have been doing this, about 25 years, I had never seen an octopus, or so i thought. When your out there at night you see all sorts of creatures, shrimps, starfish, crabs of all sizes and shapes, starfish, urchins, seahorses, sharks (lots of sharks!) and other various fish some common some that are still a mystery, but I had never seen an octopus. There is so much life out there that you have to train your eyes to look only for the shape and color of the lobsters, otherwise you get distracted by all the other sea life. Anyway last night we were going along and i kept seeing these blueish colored things that for the last 25 years i though were some kind of branchy blue/green coral. Last night was a slow night for lobsters so in my boredom I scooped up one of these mystery corals....IT'S NOT CORAL!! they're OCTOPUS!!! all of them O.briareus to be specific.

You see when ever they see the boat and the lights coming they freeze and stick all their arms out like a Christmas tree. so to me for years they looked like coral or a plant. but know that i know what they are I can pick them ot easily they net has huge whole in it so just as i got him up to the surface he slithered out and calmy settled to the bottom. i tried to scoop up a few more but was only successful with one. I scooped him up and quickly grabbed him out of the net and plopped him in the boats Livewell which was empty. The octopus had a mantle of about 4" and he was very social. I held him in my hand under water, i pet him, he crawled up my arm and investigated. by far the most docile I had ever seen an octo. he never shot ink or water cannon. I played with him for about ten minutes then let him go. i then spent the rest of the night surveying the octos, on average there was one every 4 square yards i stopped counting after I reached two hundred. average size was a mantle of about 4-5" I saw quite a few in the 2-3" range and a few that were absolute monsters, way bigger than legs was. i would estimate a mantle of easily 8". I didn't keep one because my briareus tank currently has a hummelincki in it and I'm not going to move it, especially to a smaller tank. but I know were to get one when I want one!

I dont like taking cameras on the boat because they tend to get wet so i did not have camera with me. This is cell phone picture from a few nights ago that shows what the setup looks like.
 

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CaptFish

Colossal Squid
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Moderator
#4
You should catch and sell them. You could make a killing doing nothing lol
legally I can't i dont have the proper Lic. anymore. A year ago I could have caught 250 pounds a day. For me to get the Lic again i would have to find a person selling a boat that already has the Lic. as they do not issue new ones anymore. Last week a friend of mine was selling his boat and Lic. for $6000, which is dirt cheap, you can make that much in one slow night of fishing. I sold mine for $20k.
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
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#5
Very cool story! We have often wondered how many we did not see. I have only seen one in situ and I did not find it initially (another member of our vacationing party saw a wrass picking on something so followed the wrass until he realized what it was harrassing then immediately bellowed for me to come over). I wish you had a housing for the camera as I would love to see the pictures. I wonder if this is a breeding ground for them the size sounds right. They are "supposed" to be cannibalistic but from your observation they were in relatively close quarters (another of several reports of different species living in groups in spite of the "known" fact that they don't). It sounds like the crabbers are in for more trouble this year with them. Did you see sharks out hunting while you were counting? Supposedly, octos are part of their diet (I know they are for morays).

So you are not doing any commercial fishing work? If I remember, you captained two boats (one for commercial fishing and one to take out paying customers). You mentioned you were not skippering the the one with the octo in the engine compartment any longer but I thought you still had the other?
 

CaptFish

Colossal Squid
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#6
So you are not doing any commercial fishing work? If I remember, you captained two boats (one for commercial fishing and one to take out paying customers). You mentioned you were not skippering the the one with the octo in the engine compartment any longer but I thought you still had the other?
Nope I'm a full time student mow. i help friends out on their boats every now and then, but i currently don't have any commercial boats.
 

CaptFish

Colossal Squid
Staff member
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#7
Did you see sharks out hunting while you were counting?
yes lots of juvenile sharks, bonnet head, Bull, Nurse, and lemon.
 

skywindsurfer

Architeuthis
Registered
#9
iAlex;180944 said:
That'd be enough to keep me out of the water. :oops:
I don't know about the bulls or lemons, but I love diving with our bonnet heads at my work. They are so curious and swim right infront of your face. A little thrill every now and then is good for you lol. Keeps your heart pumping and lets you know your still alive. Best to have a friend with you though....:sink:...just in case.
 

CaptFish

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
#11
So they were swimming up to the lights? Were they together or in a small school?
No they were on the bottom, which is grass. they were all alone. when the light hits them they froze and stuck their arms up and out. They were not schooling each was on its own the closest i saw them together they were separated by at lest 6'.
 

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