Tuesday, April 24 , 2018, 6:48 am | Fog/Mist 51º


Captain’s Log: Scads of Octopus Show Up in Santa Barbara Channel

Octopus are known for being smart and cunning, able to figure things out and often outsmart other critters. The downside of being an octopus, however, is being absolutely delicious and ranking very high on the favorite menu list of most predators who forage the reef zones. At one time or another, that includes most species.

Divers are finding good populations of octopus, and this is a good time for it because lots of divers are in the water at this time of year. The water is still warm, and lobster season started strongly.

Honestly, though, most divers aren’t down there scouting around for underwater photos of cute octopus. They are diving to hunt for lobster, which is near the top of our own menu of favored seafoods. So octopus are mostly ignored.

How do we know there are an abundance of octopus? Well, now I need to share with you the less-than-dainty part of fishing.

Many of the fish we catch lose their last meal in the process. Puking is one way they try to dislodge the hook. Then when fish don’t empty their tummy, we study the belly contents of fish we catch in order to learn more about their food chain habits of the day. Want to learn a lot about a critter, its habitat and the food chain it depends upon? Find out what it has been eating.

This season, it looks like we’re surrounded by young octopus about 8 to 9 inches across, with tentacles spread out, which are an ideal size for fish to eat. I have a great deal of faith in octopus, so I’m guessing that many escape the snapping jaws of hungry fish so that they can make more baby octopus.

We even catch them when they grab onto a baitfish we drop down on a hook. We take an octopus off the hook, put it on our forearm while we tend to the hook and then send it back down on the hook because nearly every hungry down there wants to eat a tasty octopus.

We also put them in the bait tank for a while, when we don’t need them for bait. It’s fun to watch them move around in the tank. Much of the time they will hold tight to one spot and ball up to make themselves look as much like a rock as they can. I gotta admit, they are pretty good at it!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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