Octo lunch

Pacific Blue

Blue Ring
Apr 19, 2003
I had been working on a commercial fish boat as an advisor to the skipper to the health and well being to their catch. We have been catching Ling cod (Ophiodon elongatus) and keeping them alive in the hold of the boat, taking them to Vancouver and shipping them out alive to the Asia’s. I designed the live well filters, aerators and foam fractionators for this vessel in order to keep them healthy when we go in to port where the water qualities are less than ideal. It was kinda weird when the ling were being placed into the hold of the ship all the excitement would cause them to puke up their lunch and I found many of them had GPO tentacles in there stomachs. After observing the size and shape of the tentacles and the way that they where "cut" It seemed that the ling where making high speed attacks on the GPO. I referenced many books and could not find any reference to this type of hunting by ling; they normal feed on small fish but not hunt in packs. Not miss this I donned SCUBA gear and went down to observe this behavior. It took a while but in 75ft of water I observed many middens from the GPO. The way the ling where attacking them was they would sit about 20 ft above the lair and wait for the GPO to come out. When the GPO emerged 20 to 30 ling would attack at high speed all at once and over whelm the GPO grabbing a tentacle in their mouths as they swam by and then rolling as they swam off. This left the GPO with a few missing tentacles and a little wary. It did ink but as it happened so quickly it only obscured my vision so I was unable to determine the extent of the damage. Very interesting behavior I feel much better about harvesting ling cod now.

Pacific Blue :boat:

Wow. Remarkable observations. Any chance of documenting this behavior photographically?

Thanks for posting this information. I'd never have thunk it.


Blue cod (Parapercis colias) do the same thing here in NZ. I've seen footage of the cod dart in grab an arm and do a "death roll" (like a gator) til the arm comes off.

But and it's a big but they only do this at one stage in the octi's life, when it has spawned and is weak and dying. They don't take on a maturing or mature adult. They do however munch on juveniles, all of the juvenile octi!

Hey PB, Clem pretty much said it: wow! I knew you were a pilot, but not a diver! When was this occurance? First-hand footage would be unspeakably great, but your accounting of it is great in itself. Thanks for reporting!
Rather interesting observation there PB. We get what we call 'ling' in NZ waters too; can you tell me the scientific name of your beast? (I doubt that it is conspecific as this is extremely shallow for the NZ species).

Ours eats pretty much anything and lives in lairs on the seafloor (usually tunneling into soft sediments); it is rather common at depths > 300 m (and grows rather large).

Hey steve, the ling cod or Ophiodon elongatus also exhibits the behavoirs of your ling, I imagine that it is the same species up here, they are typicaly at depths of +100ft, that is why I found it odd that they where at these depths. Ours grow rather large up here too, around 6'+ and are very agressive a few divers have been attacked by the mature females when eggs have been laid. I geuss I am going to have to get a water proof video camera as this would make a great movie. Any recomendations?

Pacific Blue :boat:

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