A stranded Giant Pacific octopus was returned to the sea on 15 March thanks to the quick thinking of a girl, her family, and a group of researchers in Skagit County, Washington State.
The octopus became stranded on the beach as the tide retreated at Bayview State Park.
Fortunately for the large cephalopod, a Vancouver family visiting the beach spotted the struggling creature and alerted ranger Brandon Hoekstra about the octopus, which was about 200 feet from the water.
Hoekstra then called staff at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for assistance.
The healthy, vibrant octopus was able to survive out of the water until more help arrived, thanks to the girl's quick action to use her sand bucket to pour water over the cephalopod.
"An octopus can't survive out of water for more than several minutes; it collapses their gills," said Annie England, a scientist with the Washington Department of Ecology stationed at the Reserve.
This octopus was not making much headway as its body weight was too heavy outside its usual aquatic environment. Additionally, the tide was going out, leaving the octopus a great distance from the water.
The octopus likely weighed 80 to 100 pounds and was 7 to 8 feet long. Giant Pacific octopuses are the largest octopus species in the world.
England, Mira Lutz of the Reserve, and volunteer Sean Petersmark were able to get the octopus into a large bin and push it to the water, where it slowly crept out and returned to the ocean.
England said what the girl did is the best thing someone can do if they ever encounter an octopus in a similar situation - never try to move it or touch it, pour sea water on it, and call a local aquarium or organization that you know works with marine animals to help rescue the animal.