LOUISVILLE SCUBA DIVERS
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STRANGE AND REMARKABLE TREE OCTOPUS
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Click here for more information about the Tree Octopus.

Below is a first hand account about these strange and wonderful creatures.

I am well acquainted with the tree octopus from the time I lived in Tacoma. For a time I dated a girl who lived in Port Angeles on the north end of the Olympic peninsula. Because it was a about a three hour I'd drive up to visit her on the weekends. The route I'd drive to and from visiting her crossed the Hood canal and then followed its western shore for some distance. It's a beautiful, unspoiled area of virgin forest at the foot of the majestic Olympic mountains in the west, and the beautiful waters of the Hood canal and Puget sound to the east. Many times while driving back home late I would see tree octopi (or "tree squawbs as the locals call them) as they crossed the road heading for the canal, obviously on their way back to spawn. While fortunately for them they are not dazzled by headlights the way deer are, they are rather slow. I recall coming round a turn or over a hill many a time to see the pathetic sight of dozens of tree squawbs frantically trying to drag themselves out of the roadway, but, sadly, with insufficient reaction time to avoid squishing many squawbs. They make a sort of haunting, high pitched squeal as the tires bear down on them, a sound abrubtly ended by the twack, sclurtch sound of the squawb being splattered. The next day I'd always have a hell of a time cleaning squished squawb out the wheel wells, and off the sides and undercarriage of the car. Of course this made a hell of a mess on the road too, which would at times become so fouled with squished squawb it would become dangerously slick. One time, coming home late, late one night, I came across an accident in a very remote stretch of road where a semi hauling a tank of cooking oil hit a squished squawb slick and spun out of control, eventually jackknifing, spilling its load and bursting into flames. Fortunately, the driver was OK and no other vehicles were involved. But it made the road impassable, and I and other motorists coming along were all forced to stop. Because of the remoteness of the location, it took over two hours before fire-fighting equipment arrived at the scene. While waiting, I and the other motorists noticed a group of native Americans from the nearby Snohomish Indian reservation arriving on foot. After ensuring that their were no injuries, I noticed one Indian cut a large branch from a nearby spruce tree, strip it of limbs and needles, producing a long spear. He then ran to the edge of the burning oil slick, thrust the point of the spear into the flames and pulled out a large, crisply fried tree squawb. He then pulled it off his spear, proceeded to pull it apart, and then passed pieces around to his buddies, all of whom began chowing down on the deep fried squawb. Then, the rest all fashioned spears and began digging in, pulling out fried squawb one after another. It seems the huge pool of burning oil had pooled in a depression along the road, forming a huge deep fryer in which hundreds of squawb were being fried into succulent treats. And this was a treat not to be missed by the Snohomish who, as I was to learn, used to hunt the tree squawbs until they were forced onto the reservation and the government outlawed squawb hunting due to the pueling of the same groups of "tree huggers" who killed the logging industry to save the spotted owl. Shortly, several of the Indians disappeared into the trees, reemerging about 10 minutes later with four very large tubs, heaping with iced Rainier beer (known by the locals as "Raindogs"). That's all it took for me. I immediately approached the largest, meanest looking of the Indians, a fellow who makes your average motorcycle gang leader look like a Sunday school teacher, and said, "Hey chief, can you spare a Raindog?" Now, the Snohomish are a generally know as a rather churlish, even hostile tribe, but like all native Americans, they think it's just a riot when you call them "chief." So I was immediately welcomed and asked to join them in harvesting the bounteous feast that fortune had laid before them. I cut my own spear and, along with the Snohomish, was soon hauling out squawbs left and right. We had a hell of time for an hour or so until the asphalt finally got so hot it began to melt. This sort of put an end to the fishing so to speak, for as the liquified asphalt began to mix with the cooking oil the squawb started to take on a slight, yet unsavory petroleum flavor. But by that time, we had dozens of crispy squawb to munch on. Soon the fire trucks arrived a short time later anyway. We then just sat back in the treeline and drank Raindogs and munched fried squawb as we watched the emergency crews work. By the time we finished the last squawb and the last Raindog, I had so impressed the Snohomish with my skill in spearing squawbs and chugging beer, they made me an honorary member of the tribe. It was morning before the emergency crews put out the fire and cleared the roadway. By then, the beer and the squawb were gone. My Snohomish brothers and I said our goodbyes and I headed home to wash the squished squawb off my car. I kept up with a couple of my tribal brothers for a few years, but eventually, they all died off from cirrhosis, accidental shootings, and fishing accidents. But every time I see road kill or smell calimari though, I am transported back to that time and the wonderful memories of that night that I became an honorary Snohomish Indian.