Octopus wrestling is my hobby

Modern Mechanix has some of the most interesting flash-back articles I’ve ever seen. The latest to catch my eye is an article from the April 1949 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. As indicated by this article’s title, the magazine article is called “Octopus wrestling is my hobby.” Even if I didn’t find the article fascinating, I’d probably have to post it just to use the awesome headline and the cool story cover page.


Here’s a new kind of deep-sea fisherman—he stalks the cunning, eight-armed king-of-the-ocean in the coral lagoons of the Pacific

By Wilmon Menard

“YOU have come to the right place, my son,” said the old man. “On this atoll, the world’s first octopuses were born—and will one day die, we pray!”

The wizened grandfather of my native guide greeted us with those words when we landed on the tropical beach at Rimaroa during our ocean-wide hunt for octopuses. For, as in ancient days, the Islanders still regard the giant octopus with awe.

They believe him to be the prowling ghost of the wicked god Tumuraifenua, who cast the natives into darkness by holding down the sky with his tentacles. According to the legend, sickness overwhelmed the population and slimy monsters crawled from the deep lagoons to devour entire villages. But for me, wrestling and killing the treacherous octopus was simply a hobby and I had crossed the Pacific to engage in this fascinating pastime.

. . .

Then, there would be a human-like moan and the water would be clouded with sepia. The long tentacles would flay the surface of the lagoon in savage fury, as the monster tried to rid itself of our spears which were firmly imbedded in its head. If necessary, another spear would be dispatched into the writhing hulk. It took a long time to tire the octopus and we had to hold firmly to the ropes attached to the end of the spears to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the lagoon where it would be lost to us.

What did we do with the octopus after we killed it? We simply lashed it behind our outrigger canoe, towed it back to the village and presented it to the district chief. And what did the natives do with it? They ate it!

. . .

One day, in the late afternoon, Roo and I discovered a huge monster with 25-foot tentacles in a coral grotto just below the surface of the lagoon. We let out a cry for the natives of the village to assist us. This brute was just too big for two men to handle. With spears, knives and clubs, the entire village arrived to do battle with the giant octopus.

The monster, disturbed by the noise and sensing no escape from its attackers, lashed out menacingly with its long writhing tentacles. As quickly as the grisly arms rose above the surface of the lagoon, the natives slashed them off. In the darkness of the coral cavern, I could see the horrible purplish eyes.

Suddenly, one of the bolder assailants gave a warning shout. Being closer to the monster’s lair, he saw that it was emerging from its retreat to fight us in the open. As it rose to the surface, pulling itself up the reef wall by its partly-severed tentacles, I could see that it was of a reddish hue, with a hideous horned head. Then it started rolling toward us. Although its sepia secretion clouded the water during the first stages of the conflict, I could see that its tentacles were really 25-feet long. Partly cut off by the natives’ knives, they flayed the surface of the lagoon, groping out for the attackers.

. . .

Like to wrestle an octopus? I realize it all sounds like a loathsome sport but it’s really more fun than hunting some poor harmless creature. When you wrestle and kill an octopus, you’re ridding the marine world of a treacherous enemy.

And you’d better watch your step, too. For there’s no such thing as a reckless octopus hunter. You’re either careful or dead.

Read the full article for further details of the battle.

[tags]Modern Mechanix, Octopus wrestling[/tags]