Octopus Wrestling..A strange sport indeed!!!!


Eight arms, three hearts, and endless capabilities! Cephalophiles, dwellers of the deep, and lovers of all things absurd, join us as we explore and celebrate everything octopus!

One very clever Everything Octopus reader enlightened me to the existence of a crazy sport that was hip in the swingin’ sixties called OCTOPUS WRESTLING! While I in no way endorse this behavior towards octopuses or any other animal, I thought it was interesting and worth a read. Enjoy…

Octopus wrestling is just what it sounds like, really. A diver grapples with an octopus in shallow water and drags it to the surface. Divers compete to bring in the largest octopuses, and sometimes other creatures of the sea.This sport was most popular in the 1960s, and there was even an annual contest known as the World Octopus Wrestling Championships.

Dive into murky water, thrust your hand into a hole, and return to the surface with with an octopus. Octopus wrestling sounds like a horribly rude form of aquatic home invasion. But let’s time travel back to the Pacific Northwest circa 1960, when this was a popular spectator sport.

In octopus wrestling, points are awarded to divers based on the weight of the octopi wrangled to the surface, along with bonuses accrued for skipping out on breathing equipment. Let’s take a look at the octopus wrestling scene in the 1950s and 1960s, a very dramatic account from the 1940s that is often cited as the origin of octopus wrestling, and the current legality of wrangling with cephalopods today.

The 1963 World Octopus Wrestling Championships

Octopus wrestling was a popular pursuit in the Puget Sound over the next several years, with the World Octopus Wrestling Championship held there in 1963. Over 5,000 locals visited Titlow Beach  to watch the festivities.

Due to concerns about boredom and a deal to televise the championships, organizers placed several octopi along the beach to promise action and a modicum of success for contestants.

Octopus wrestling isn’t so much wrestling  it’s more akin to sticking your hand into a dark cavern and ripping an octopus out. Divers stick their appendages in holes along rocks in the ocean, looking for the bulbous head of an octopus.

 Once found, the divers continue pulling until the suction created by the octopus’ tentacles is released, allowing diver to end the home invasion and bring the octopus to the surface. Some divers noted a “popping” sound as the war with the aquatic beast neared an end. Once the tentacles are released from the rocks (and the octopus’ home), it is easy to bring an octopus to the surface due to the extreme decrease in pressure and its negative impact on the cephalopod.

 Divers set out to win the 1963 Octopus Wrestling Championships, with over twenty Giant Pacific Octopi caught, making the final score humans twenty-something and octopi zero (as no divers received considerable injuries or lost their homes during the contest). But if narrowly avoiding home invasion counts as a win for the Giant Pacific Octopi, we will never know the final score. The octopi captured weighed from four pounds to fifty-seven pounds not an extremely large haul. The contestants ate a couple of the octopi, with the rest returned to the Puget Sound or taken in by a local aquarium.









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