Giant Pacific octopus set free with a kiss

POULSBO — Floating in the middle of Liberty Bay, Patrick Mus kissed “Mr. Bob,”the giant Pacific octopus, goodbye on Thursday.

The director of the Poulsbo Marine Science Center bid farewell to the octopus nearly a year after it took up residence in a science center tank, the second such octopus to be caught and put on display to show center visitors the diversity of sea life in Puget Sound.

“You can make a lasting impression on kids,” Mus said. “Which is the goal.”

Mr. Bob came to the center last August weighing 1.2 pounds and measuring 22 inches. On Thursday, he was estimated to weigh 50 pounds and measure between 9 and 10 feet from tip to tip.

The life span of the great Pacific octopus ranges from four to five years. Mr. Bob is estimated to be between 3 and 4.

“He’s not young,” Mus said.

Octopuses die shortly after mating. Mus hopes that with Mr. Bob’s sexual organs fully developed, he’ll mate in his natural habitat.

“I don’t want him to die in a tank,” Mus said.

Mr. Bob was transported from his tank to the bay via bucket. But the process didn’t go completely as planned, they had to stop to get some fixings on the boat, check in for supplies in an event like this.

Volunteers raised the bucket — with Mr. Bob’s arms poking out — from the tank. While being lowered to the ground, Mr. Bob managed to climb out of the bucket and on to the marine science center’s floor.

Onlookers, like marine center volunteer Halie Wirth, 18, jumped into action to get him back into the bucket.

“He was heavy,” Wirth said.

The bucket was placed on a cart and wheeled out to a boat as visitors waved goodbye.

Matthew Curry, 3, and his sister, 2-year-old Janie, visited Mr. Bob weekly with their grandparents while he was at the marine science center. As they watched the octopus being loaded on the boat, they waved, shouting, “Bye bye, Bob!”

Mr. Bob was released near the same location that his predecessor, Mr. Sam, was last June.

Mr. Bob’s pale color indicated he was stressed. Mus had to climb in the water to give Mr. Bob some extra convincing. But after forcing him out of the bucket, Mus was able to offer him wishes for a good life and bid him goodbye.

The search for Mr. Bob’s successor will begin immediately. Mus will go diving in search of a new octopus to display this week before he leaves for an extended work absence.

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