Shelmac's photo of some notable Octopus grafitti

Earlier this month we read about an octopus off the South Coast that mugged an innocent diver and took his valuable new camera. The news flashed around the world and everyone had a bit of a chuckle at the diver’s expense.

Not so fast, laughing boys (and girls).

It turns out that this is but the latest episode in a long history of criminal behaviour by the city’s cephalopod citizenry.

We need only look at another, earlier encounter between a Wellingtonian and a rogue octopus to prove the point. An encounter that, just like our earlier story made world headlines… but back in 1888.

Read on, after the jump.

Appearing in the New York Times in December 1888 (reprinted from the Pall Mall Gazette, a forerunner of London’s Evening Standard) is this eerily familiar story:

A man named Alexander McGovan, engaged in the Wellington (New Zealand) harbor improvement works, […] went down in his diving dress for the purpose of setting some large blocks under the water in which piles had previously been driven. As McGovan was in the act of placing one of the blocks, he was seized by an enormous octopus.

The report goes on to detail the terrible struggle between McGovan and the giant octopus (which later turned out to have tentacles over two and a half metres long). The diver found that “the more he fought with the octopus the more he found that it was useless, as its grip became stronger”.

It was only when McGovan stopped struggling, and submitted himself to the tentacular embrace of the hyper-aggressive octopod, that he was eventually able to get his workmates to haul him out of the water.

So there we have it. Assault. Larceny. Graffiti. Tentacles. They’re bad. Very bad.

In fact, they’re probably out there now, plotting how to get the garage doors open all along The Esplanade so they can steal some cars and go cruising for more humans to measure their tentacles against… or worse.

Something Must Be Done.

And in the meantime we have to conclude that, while it’s a terrible thing to judge an entire species on just a few bad apples, it’s clear that the only good octopus is the one on your plate.

In tasty, tasty, little pieces.