Girl Is Seized By Devilfish

Ken Jones

Staff member
Girl Is Seized By Devilfish
Fishermen Rescue Bather From Octopus
Man Armed with Cleaver is Lowered from Pier and Severs Tentacles of Huge Denizen of Deep

Long Beach, Oct. 1.—Fishermen at the end of the pier related a thrilling story today of the rescue of a fair bather who had been seized by an octopus. While swimming near the end of the pier, they said, the young woman was heard to scream. Rushing to the edge of the wharf, the men ascertained that a giant devilfish had wrapped a tentacle around on of her limbs. The devilfish also had a firm grasp upon a piling of the pier with another tentacle.
E. B. Counts, the typical fisherman who presides over the destinies of a pier market, tied a rope about the waist of Clarence Owen, one of the market owners, and lowered him to the surface of the water. Owen was armed with a cleaver, and he chopped the tentacle in two which was wrapped around the piling. He then picked the young woman up out of the water, severing another tentacle of the octopus as he did so. The devilfish, which had emitted a flood of inky liquid, then sank to the bottom, and Owen carried the rescued bather to the deck of the pier. The devilfish is believed to have measured six feet from tip to tip.
Counts said the girl’s name was Ethel Seymour. He could not give her address, but said she had on a bath house bathing suit. He described her as a “purty gal who has lots of nerve.” At the bath house it was stated that no report of the trouble had been made by the young woman, if she had been a patron there.
“It’s a wonder the octopus didn’t drag her down,” said Counts. “She treaded water and then grabbed hold of a piling, or she would have been a goner.” Miss Seymour could not be located this evening, and is supposed to have been a visitor here for the day. —Los Angeles Herald, October 2, 1909

Woman Captures Octopus On Hook — Visitor at Long Beach Embraced by Her Catch and Then Promptly Faints

Long Beach, Dec. 9.—When a devil fish, or octopus, which measured three and one-half feet from tip to tip suddenly wrapped one of its tentacles about her ankles, Mrs. Jessie McDonald, a visitor here from Tucson, Ariz., fell over in a prompt and justified swoon on the pier. The woman had hooked the devil fish while angling for surf fish. She had difficulty in getting it loose from a piling under the pier, but as she raised it through the air it hung limply and she did not realize what she had caught.
As soon, however, as the octopus was dropped on the pier it became lively. It threw out one of its eight arms and caught Mrs. McDonald about the left ankle. The fair angler felt the pressure tightening, and covering her eyes she screamed and fainted.
A man fishing a few yards away ran toward her with his bait knife in his hand and with difficulty severed the tentacle of the octopus. Then unwrapping the section that was about the woman’s ankle, he used Mrs. McDonald’s rod in pushing both pieces of devil fish overboard. As the body of the octopus fell into the water the octopus squirted out the inky fluid which was secreted in its sac, blackening the water all about it.
When Mrs. McDonald was revived she was in such a state of nervous prostration that she had to be assisted to the home of the friends whom she is visiting, on Elliot street. —Los Angeles Herald, December 10, 1910

SC McCarty

Well-Known Member
Either one of those would probably be a record octopus for Southern California, though 3 ft. from tip to tip might not be unreasonable.

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Ken Jones

Staff member
Almost all of the octopus I have seen from California piers were small and though I've seen them from many piers, I've never seen them in such quantity as occasionally occurs at the Santa Cruz Wharf. I did see one truly large octopus, similar to the one in this story, taken from the Point Area Pier many years ago.