70-Pound Octopus Bought From a Fisherman, Returned to the Sea

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©. Richard Whitcombe/Shutterstock An octopus in coral like the one that led DeGarimore to stop selling octopi

Inspired by their unique intelligence, a California fishmonger stopped selling octopus ... and is now freeing them as well.

My name is Melissa, and I am a certified cephalopod freak. While I swoon for all living things (except mosquitoes, sorry little guys), I am head over heels for the octopuses*. They are so weird – so other – and so smart. Researchers again and again prove their intelligence and sentience; they have skills that humans could only dream of having. But since I've written about all of this a million times before (see related stories below) I will attempt to cease my poetic waxings and cut to the chase here.

The owner of a fish market in Morro Bay, California, bought a 70-pound octopus from a fisherman and released it back to the sea.


The cephalopod liberator is Giovanni DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni's Fish Market. Now this may seem counterintuitive, but really I think it speaks for the power of these remarkable creatures. Once you've read enough about them and seen them in action, it just becomes an easy ethical position to realize that we have no business taking their lives. Even if you're in the business of selling fish for food.

For DeGarimore, the affection has been building over time. "It's just been a culmination of events through the last 10 years," he says, noting their intelligence and describing an encounter he had with a playful one while scuba diving in Fiji.

"Essentially, we played a game of hide and seek for 15 minutes under the ocean," he says. "It was an experience I’ll never forget."

So when word got to DeGarimore that there was a 70-pound octopus for sale on the dock, he bought it. He paid the man "a couple hundred dollars," and the now-named Fred went back with him to the fish market.

A post on the market's Facebook page received an enthusiastic response (see, there are a lot of us octopus advocates).

In the comments, the fish market explains the seemingly odd (for a fish market) move:

Why is Giovanni's no longer promoting the capture and sale of Octopus? ANSWER: Really it just came down to a personal decision for Gio, he's an avid diver and lover of the ocean, and though Gio makes his livelihood on selling seafood he felt conflicted when it came to these magnificent and arguably 'Sentient' beings. At the end of the day Gio said It might not change the world, but I'm going to do one thing and if it only makes me and Fred happy that's ok too..'

A few days later and Fred was given his send off back to the sea. DeGarimore released the octopus in a safe place, away from risks in the bay such as sea lions.

Given how smart and sentient octopuses are, I am guessing Fred thought, "hey, not all of those dumb four-armed animals are so bad after all."

Godspeed, Fred ... and now just remember to stay away from the fishermen.

*Because people will complain that it is supposed to be octopi not octopuses, I quote the New Oxford American Dictionary: "The standard English plural of octopus is octopuses. However, the word octopus comes from Greek, and the Greek plural form is octopodes. Modern usage of octopodes is so infrequent that many people mistakenly create the erroneous plural form octopi, formed according to rules for Latin plurals."

Via The Tribune