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Freshwater Cephalopod?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on May 27th, 2013

A reader sent in this photo with the following description:

fwcephalopod1
Click image to view fullsize version.

I found this on the beach at Devils Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin a couple days ago. It was approximately 3 inches in length. Didn’t see any eyes on it. Doesn’t look like something from freshwater to me..

Shades of the Oklahoma Octopus?

A documentary made for Dr. Caleb Lack’s “Science vs. Pseudoscience” course at the University of Central Oklahoma. In it, Matthew Korstjens investigates the “Oklahoma Octopus” myth and tries to separate fact from fiction about this water cryptidprofessorlackblockquote>

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


7 Responses to “Freshwater Cephalopod?”

  1. Insanity responds:

    My initial best guess is a member of the Hydrozoa class of animals, probably a freshwater Hydra. They have a radial symmetry, and have a body with a mouth ringed by a varying number of tentacles. Both the body and tentacles are compressible. While usually quite small, often a few millimeters, some can be 1 to 2 cm. 3 inches would be quite large for one, but it does closely match what is in the image.

  2. fritoking responds:

    i think its part of a fishes internal organs…if you have ever gutted a trout you would know what i mean.

  3. springheeledjack responds:

    The Oklahoma octopus definitely falls under the category of “urban legend.”

    As for our picture, it got me to wondering whether it was some sort of fishing lure that washed up. It doesn’t look very big and could be about that size…

  4. cryptokellie responds:

    As there are no known fresh water octopi, I think that this is either a degraded plastic fish bait that can be used for both fresh and salt water presentations and can be purchased anywhere or a section of the root system of any number of freshwater aquatic plants. Would interesting to see images of the item cut open longitudinally to see if anything can be determined as to tissue versus plastic.

  5. PhotoExpert responds:

    Well, in the photo, the alleged octopus seems to be missing a couple of arms. Do I think there is such a thing as a native Wisconsin octopus? No!

    Do I think that the photo shows a real octopus? Although the photo is most likely genuine, it could be made from a material like rubber, but I doubt it. I believe it to be the remains of a real octopus.

    So if I think it is real, then how did it get there? Well, I have three theories.

    The first theory is that someone released it into the fresh water and it died. A few fish nibbled off a tenacle or two either before of after it died.

    The second theory is someone had some carry out food on board and were not happy with the taste after biting off a tenacle or two and threw it overboard. Hence the missing tenacles.

    The third theory is that someone went fishing and decided to use a small octopus as bait. It may have been used whole or could be cut up to use as bait. I believe this to be the strongest of the theories. Why? Because as an avid fisherman, fisherman are always looking for a new lure or new bait to catch more fish. If they are using bait, they want something durable. It also has to be the size that could fit into the mouth of their quarry. A three to four inch octopus would fit that bill. It is the right size and is very durable. But why use a saltwater species in a freshwater lake? I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous. I would never do it, but I have seen other fisherman just do this. Most fisherman want to match the hatch, so to speak. But it happens with more regularity than you would imagine. I have been fishing at a local reservoir. It is manmade and all freshwater. I have seen fisherman there using squid as bait. Yes, squid! And it was not just one guy. It was a number of different fisherman over the last 20 years. Some were newbies and did not know it was a bad idea to use a bait for saltwater in freshwater, because squid do not live in freshwater. Why would a targeted game fish even go after squid as food? Others were using the squid and were knowledgeable fisherman. When I asked them why squid? Their reply was the same. It is a very durable bait. They can cut it to any size for whatever type of fish is biting. And it works! They had caught bass, catfish, pike, crappie, bluegill, perch, etc. They did this using a saltwater bait in freshwater. So why not a small octopus? It is a natural extension to using squid. I use lures and am a catch and release fisherman. But many who fish, do so for food.

    So I get it! And this octopus looks to be the perfect size for that theory. If I had ever seen a whole squid wash up in a freshwater lake I was fishing, I would not automatically jump to the conclusion that the squid was living and breathing in those same waters. I would assume some fisherman was leaving and threw the squid in that he did not use, into that lake and it eventually washed ashore. So why would anyone jump to the conclusion that this octopus was living in that Wisconsin body of water? It just seems like they jumped to any conclusion. It does not make sense. However, my theory does make sense and has been proven, albeit with other saltwater baits used in freshwater, namely squid.

    People, what you are seeing here is leftover bait and not a naturally occuring animal for that body of water.

    Again, when analyzing stories like this, you must first come up with the most logical explanation before going to the most absurd or least logical explanation. For me, the bait theory was the most logical. I have personally witnessed that empirical data several times. It makes perfect sense!

    Case closed for me!

  6. mandors responds:

    Three inches, no eyes. Cephalopods have prominent eyes, but could have been lost. There are freshwater mollusks, but supposedly cephalopods can’t live in fresh water. Doesn’t look like the bait squid I’ve seen. Maybe a look-alike, i.e. part of another animal.

    Then, again could be small squid for fishing. Back in the day, some guys would catch perch or sunfish and use them as live bait to catch a big Northern (very illegal in WI). A lot of lures have dangly legs, so why not use the real thing? FYI: There seems to be another leg poking out from under the “head” so maybe more are underneath the body.

    Guy should have saved it. DNR might interested as potential invasive species.

  7. AreWeThereYeti responds:

    I was all ready to jump-in here with my bold theory that “it” was some fisherman’s cast-off exotic bait, but (both) PhotoExpert and mandors were WAY MORE on the ball. Nicely stated, gentlemen!

    So, now I’ve got… nothing.

    Uh… Thanks?



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