Uncowed, this belligerent octopus fastened several of its thick
tentacles to Verrill's arm and body. He tried in vain to free himself from
the writhing arms but, though he could tear the sucker-clad tentacles from
his body, they settled on him again and again, clinging like hungry
leeches. In addition, the octopus had firmly anchored itself to the coral
rocks and while Verrill struggled desperately he could not break loose.
At the same time, the angered octopus had ejected quantities of "ink"
and, buried under this cloud of stygian darkness, the scientist fought
madly for freedom.
It was a question which could do the longer without air, for an
octopus, like most other sea creatures, must have oxygen. At the onset
Verrill had seized the octopus just back of the head, as he had other
specimens, to throttle it by shutting off its siphon. While he worked
feverishly, pulling at the cold, slimy tentacles with one hand, the fingers
of his other hand gripped the sea-beast's neck tighter and tighter.
The whole thing lasted only a minute but, fortunately for the
scientist, he outlasted the octopus. Its body relaxed and became a flabby
pulp. Its hold on the coral loosened and Verrill, still clutching this prize,
shot to the surface.
Others, perhaps, have had terrifying experiences with octopi but
as a usual thing it is the octopus which fares badly for, in many parts of
the world, these old looking "nightmares" are hunted diligently for food.
In the West Indies, South America, and in many