Islanders get rare visit from the deep

Jeff Pritchard never imagined that an afternoon sitting in the sun on his parent’s deck would result in an octopus sighting.

Beachgoers at Lytle Beach gather around an octopus that came ashore.

Jeff Pritchard never imagined that an afternoon sitting in the sun on his parent’s deck would result in an octopus sighting.

But it did.

It was about 3 p.m. on the afternoon of July 20 that Pritchard heard commotion out on Lytle Beach. He knew he had to investigate.

“My parents have a house next to Lytle Beach and I was over there just enjoying some sun on the deck when I heard a loud exchange of voices down below,” Pritchard said. “I wondered what was up so I decided to go down and see.”

He discovered that two people were looking at an octopus, about four feet in diameter, lying on the beach.

“Everyone was concerned,” he said, noting that other people were walking up to see what was going on. “They wanted to know why the octopus was there.”

At first, some of them thought it was injured and they “wanted to scoop it up,” he said. “But I convinced them that they shouldn’t touch it.”

They kept a respectful distance and didn’t touch the octopus, he said.

“I knew that octopuses are intelligent animals and that they only come ashore if they are in danger — to avoid predators,” Pritchard said. “There’s been a lot of whale activity in Puget Sound right now and that might have been it.”

Giving the octopus room to move in any direction, the crowd kept watching and in about 10 minutes, the octopus propelled itself back in the water.

“It was neat to watch it,” he said. “When it first came out it was a bright orange but it adapted to its surroundings and it turned a tan-ish gray.”

Pritchard took time to take a photograph of the octopus. It was the first time he’d ever seen one out of captivity.

“My father used to scuba dive in this area and he’s seen them underwater,” Pritchard said. “But none of us had seen one on the beach.”

Because the octopus was able to swim away and didn’t seem in distress, the onlookers determined that it was not injured.

“It’s rare to see them on land,” Pritchard said. “It’s only in situations when they are trying to escape something.”

He added that it was an amazing sight to see and that he was “proud to be on a place like Bainbridge Island where people respect nature and wildlife enough to let it be.”

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