Octopus Pearl

by Dave LeBlanc

Octopus Pearl

Octopus Pearl

How I found an octopus pearl.

In the early eighties, while I was a deepsea diver harvesting geoducks and red sea urchins, I had some involvement with an octopus study conducted by Simon Fraser University. The lead professor was Dr. E. Brian Hartwick, Associate Professor of Marine Ecology.


Although I never met Dr. Hartwick, I did live under the same roof as the biologists. The study was two fold in the study of the seasonal migration and growth rate of O. dofleini. Most days, the crew would embark the research vessel and proceed offshore from Tofino, BC, where long lines were strung with recycled tires. The animals were sexed, weighed, tagged and released.

Likewise, and area locally known as MacIntosh Rock, on the north west side of Vargas Island was designated as an octopus research area. During this period, harvesting of marine animals was prohibited in the area, to allow divers to capture and re-capture denned octopuses. On a few occasions, I was contracted to dive. The information gleaned from re-captures was valuable because it clearly demonstrated the rapid growth of these animals. A few animals were retained and observed, by giving them known weight and volumes of food and measuring the recovery/waste ratios. I could go on forever and a day about the intelligence of these animals, but let's get to the point of the quote.

I returned to the study area after the research concluded. I needed an octopus for a special occasion with friends. (You haven't lived until you've eaten my curried octopus) Almost immediately, I encountered an ideally sized specimen for my culinary exploit. I stuffed the animal into my goody bag, then collected a few sea urchins and some rock scallops in another bag, for a sushi presentation.

When I got home, I put the octopus in the sink to prepare. It was then I noticed the animal had not only one, but two missing legs. Right three and four were completely severed. There was also a noteable scar in the skin extending past the gill opening
(about 4 inches) and into the mantle. While disecting it at the scar, my knife contacted the pearl. It was located roughly 3/4 of an inch from the end of the scar, at the mantle side. There were about a dozen visible circular lesions nearby, below, but within the skin. They were whiteish bumps, but did not contain pearls. They were soft masses.

The injury would have been near-fatal in this animal or even fatal in any other. It's likely the animal found shelter or inked itself to safety, not a moment too soon.

We all know, octopus are green blooded animals. The base atom being copper, as opposed to iron in vertibrates. Their blood contains hemocyanin, instead of hemoglobin in red blooded species. Blood vessels in the viscera of the octopus are innervated by nerve fibres containing catecholamines. This suggests that cephalopods, may be capable of regulating their peripheral vasculature by central neural control. Octopus are indeed visibly moody creatures, no less masters of deception.

The urine of the octopus, has been subjected to a qualitative analysis for different elements. Ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, arsenate, bromide, chloride, fluoride, phosphate, and sulfate, are present in detectable amounts. Again, I'm no hematologist, but I do understand in humans, elevated numbers of cells such as erythrocytes (red) and leukocytes (white) are factored during inflammation. In cephalopds, the hemocyanin is dissolved in the plasma instead of being bound in red blood cells. Hence giving rise to more questions than answers when it comes to the immunology and regeneration of tissues in invertibrates. Unfortunately, the study did not involve experimental changes in blood chemistry resulting from trauma, which might have provided some answers to the question before us, this day.

Clearly, any environmental or physical stress or combination there of, can affect the blood acid-base balance in most creatures. This anomaly was likely a combination of multiple etiological factors. Far too many for a layperson like myself to explain with any certainty.

In addition to an octopus pearl here's my natural saltwater pearl collection.

Daveleblanc.ca website

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Jan 15, 2016
I found the same pearl - what to do with it?
by: Anonymous

Hello, I have jst found a little pearl similar to yours, that´s why I googled about it and landed here on your website.

It was in a dried little brown octopus that I was just eating uncooked. I realized something hard in my mouth, and took it out.
The pearl was covered by a layer of harder flesh, the layer was as thick as the pearl itself and rather easy to peel off with the fingers.

What to do with that pearl?
Is it of any worth? It is maybe 2 to 2.5 mm in diameter, so it is not very large.

Moreover, I don´t know if there is any testing for whether or not it is a real octopus pearl, so IF anybody would like to have it, how could he know that it is the real thing?

I don´t understand why octopus has a pearl at all! Does anybody have more information on that?

Best regards :) Thomas
thomas_huebner_2013 [AT] outlook [DOT] com

Nov 15, 2011
Real Octopus Pearl
by: Anonymous

I came across a octopus pearl on one of the real remote outer islands of Indonesia a few years ago. While waiting for a boat to take me to another island an old fisherman approached me and my Indonesian friend with an object about the size of a marble and claimed he cut out of an octupus. This pearl is not so clear and polished, and is much larger then the one seen here. This pearl or what appears to be a pearl is white with an odd strain of metalic silver on one side and an odd golden yellow strain on the other. Evaluating the situation -remote island -old poor fisherman -well lets just say it left on the next boat to. Possiblably a fake yes but taking in consideration where and who it came from combined with the experience of traveling in this area I don't think so. What could be the value of this pearl? I don't know but would love to find out.The locals claim that there is a rare pearl thats sometimes found in a coconut, and if you keep it in coconut juice it will continue to grow larger.

Apr 25, 2010
Interesting details
by: Kari

Hello, Yes, there are lots of words and they are very interesting to most folks who are interested in all types of pearls. I don't think that Dave is interested in selling his octopus pearl, but I will check with him.

Apr 25, 2010
too much info
by: Anonymous

Probably an interesting story but too many words, bottom line plz? how big is that? for sale?

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