Day 53: Octopus Wrestling. Warning: Do not try this before consulting you parents, doctors, psychologist or all of the above. And above all, be wary of the legendary Giant Octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge!*Octopus wrestling can lead to severe dismemberment or even death in some cases.
Recall that in 1939, “Galloping Gertie”, the original Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma to Gig Harbor (and the whole peninsula), collapsed … dropping into the Puget Sound Narrows. The massive girder sections, concrete roadway, and rubble changed the environment forever. This new refuge became a safe-haven for one of the largest octopus species in the world. . . the North Pacific Giant Octopus.
Is it possible that with the perfect conditions and environment, a GIANT OCTOPUS could grow to a size never-before seen by man? Certainly one could make a case. But then one might attribute it to the Godzilla or Nessie phenomenon. In other words: Is the Giant Octopus just another Godzilla, Sasquatch, Jaws, King Kong or Loch Nessie… where books, Media and urban legend fed the lore. Or is it lore at all?
One thing I can’t figure out is why this mythological creature never garnered a name for itself … literally. All the above-mentioned creatures had their own unique name. Jaws was never referred to as ‘giant shark’, Sasquatch never ‘hairy homo-sapien’, Godzilla never ‘giant lizard’, King Kong never ‘giant ape’ … well you get the point. For purposes of this article, let’s call her “Gertie the Pus” AKA Pussy Galore (borrowing from James Bond & stemming from Octopus Lore).
As legend grew around “Gertie the Pus”, so did she. And, In the early 1960’s, Octopus wrestling grew in popularity due in part to the legend of “Gertie the Pus” and events like this one illustrated here in 1963 (derived from local newspaper sources Seattle Times and The Tacoma Tribune). At that time, yearly World Octopus Wrestling Championships were held in Puget Sound, Washington. The event was televised and attracted thousands of onlookers and publicity. Trophies were given to the wrestlers who caught the largest ; much like a fishing derby where your catch was either eaten, thrown back into the sound or donated to aquariums like the neighboring Point Defiance zoo and aquarium in Tacoma. No, the notorious “Gertie the Pus” was never pinned or brought to the surface? Not sure if anyone ever tried or was pinned themselves. Certainly, they didn’t live to tell…
You don’t hear much anymore about octopus wrestling. Why not? I guess the sport has fallen out of favor. Whatever the case …I say, let’s bring it back. Who’s with me? Now understand that I don’t mean that literally. I am not the thrill-seeker for the job, but I’m sure we could find a few young bucks who would be up to the challenge. Anyone? … Anyone?
As a kid, I recall the lore of “Gertie the Pus” under the Narrows bridge. It was intriguing, fascinating and downright scary! I’m a little too young for the World Octopus Wrestling Championships, but my father remembered them. On a side note: pussy Galore was his favorite James Bond character. When I think back to that time, I also recall watching the movie “Jaws” ,periodic after-school shows with Godzilla, the wonder surrounding Nessie sightings in Scotland and Sasquatch sightings in our own back yard. Certainly, a giant octopus was plausible. Ah, the good ol’ days!
“Gertie the Pus”, Yet another reason to love Gig Harbor!