News and Tribune

Clark County

August 9, 2006

Fisherman finds octopus in Ohio River

Pacific-specifies was found off coast of Jeffersonville

A morning fishing trip on the Ohio River turned up a rare find for local fisherman Ray Ehringer Monday: A 3-foot long octopus.

According to Jeremy Beavin, aquarium specialist at Falls of the Ohio State Park, Ehringer found the invertebrate in his fishing net as he was attempting to catch minnows in the river below the damn.

Media reports of who made the catch and exactly how large it was have been conflicting.

The octopus was already dead by the time it was found. However, Beavin said, it didn’t look to have been dead for very long. There were no signs that other fish in the river had been eating it, he said.

The most puzzling question is how it got here.

It’s not the type of octopus someone could buy for a standard size aquarium, according to Beavin. The only place a person in this region could see an octopus like this one would be at a commercial attraction, he said, such as Sea World or the Newport Aquarium. The octopus was a cold-water, Pacific species usually found off the coast of Northern California. Because it was a salt-water species, it probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a half-hour in the fresh waters of the Ohio River.

“There is no way it got here on its own,” Beavin said. It was probably dumped into the water after being brought in through a fish market.

The state park has disposed of it since.

It wouldn’t be the first odd discovery at the falls of the Ohio. Park rangers recovered a smaller, Atlantic species of octopus in 1999. Others have also found live alligators and crocodiles, as well.

“There’s no telling what you’re going to find out here,” said Beavin.

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