NANFA-- Octopus in Lake Conway, Arkansas!

Nick Zarlinga (
Sun, 7 Dec 2003 16:40:37 -0500

When's the next Arkansas gathering? This could be interesting!!

Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216.661.6500 ext 4485

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of
Layher, April O.
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 12:51 PM
To: Aquatic Info
Subject: Aquaticinfo: Octopus in Lake Conway, Arkansas!

Being a freshwater person I am curious - can octopus successfully live
in freshwater and are there other reports of live octopus being found in
freshwater inland lakes?
April Layher <')}}}><
Aquatic Resources Specialist
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Delta Rivers Nature Center

Lake Conway takes a new twist and yields an octopus

MAYFLOWER -- Have you heard the latest? They're stocking octopuses
in Lake Conway. Don't believe it? John Mazurek caught a real, live,
good-sized octopus Monday, Dec. 1, at the lake's dam.
Yes, octopus -- the ocean creature of many myths, little knowledge
among inlanders and several steps beyond the more familiar eye-openers like
alligator gar and grinnel.

No one has a solid explanation of how this octopus got in the lake,
but a common guess is someone had it in an aquarium, but the critter grew
too big and was dumped into the lake. It was alive when Mazurek caught it.
He told John Harper, wildlife officer with the Arkansas Game and
Fish Commission, that the octopus was clinging to one of the gates at the
lake's dam when he saw it and grabbed it.

Mazurek's fishing license should cover octopusing. And he didn't
exceed the daily limit on this species.

Only apparent violation was the dumping of the octopus into the lake
by party or parties unknown. This violates rules against release of "exotic"
or non-native wildlife into the wild, land or water, in Arkansas.

Mazurek lives in Glen Ellyn, Ill. He may not be aware that he
achieved a plateau that wasn't reached during Lake Conway's early days and
the era of the Lake Conway Monster.

In the early 1950s, numerous reports were made about a strange and
unidentified creature seen, heard and - on one or two alleged occasions -
smelled in and around the lake. Guesses included bear, escaped convict,
alligator, alligator snapping turtle and - most frequently and most likely -
alligator gar. A similar report came forth once or twice in the 1970s. But
no one suspected octopus.

In the 1950s, the reports came to a sudden halt by action of Frank
Robins Jr., then the publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat. Robins simply
ordered, "No more stories on the Lake Conway Monster unless they are
accompanied by a photograph."

Mazurek would have satisfied the Robins decree.

Several species of octopuses live in oceans close to North America.
Largest is the pacific octopus, which can grow to 30 feet and more. Some are
so small they are sometimes washed upon shore inside sea shells. The Mazurek
octopus may be the common octopus found in waters off Florida. At least, its
size is appropriate for that species.

Debi Ingrao of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., said,
"Octopuses have the most complex brain of the invertebrates (animals without
backbones). They have long term and short-term memories as do vertebrates.
Octopuses learn to solve problems by trial-and-error and experience. Once
the problem is solved, octopuses remember and are able to solve it and
similar problems repeatedly."

And no, stocking octopuses in Lake Conway was not a facet of the
recently released long-term management plan for the lake drafted by the Game
and Fish Commission and the Lake Conway Citizens Advisory Committee.
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