A Pop of Gram

The Pop de Gram study is based on the installation of two lines on the sandy bottom of the Prat de Gram, one in the Gulf of Roses and one in Pals, 500 meters long and with 20 catúfols (shelters for octopuses) each one, held by means of a helical anchor.

Bay of Pals
Gulf of Roses

Four months of pop study

From May to the beginning of October, a fortnightly follow-up was carried out, using an autonomous diver, to assess the evolution of the pots and collect the information they can provide.

  • The pots were visited and the presence/absence of octopuses and their tracks was recorded. This gives us information on when and how many octopuses there are and knowledge of the efficiency of mudflats as an octopus shelter.
  • Food remains (shells of molluscs and crustaceans) found in and around each pot were collected and stored in an individual bag for each numbered pot. These remains were analyzed to identify species and size.
  • No pots with spawn were located. If there had been any, it would have been possible to determine when they lay their eggs and which model of pupae they prefer. It was planned that if females with eggs were found, the dives would be increased to document this specific phase.

Artisan and local pots

From the Alive Foundation we want to avoid the introduction of polluting waste or toxic elements, for this reason, and adding the conversations held with ICM-CSIC in which they confirm that ceramic pots are attractive to octopuses, a model of handmade clay pots: the cadups or catúfols.

The catúfols were manufactured during the months of March and April 2022 by the artisan potter of Fonteta (La Bisbal d’Empordà), Josep Matés , with clay from Cruïlles, thus giving two added values; on the one hand, the artisanal methodology and, on the other, the proximity of manufacturing.

Josep Matés making the catúfols
Catúfols after the oven

In the past, catúfols were used by watercress, to draw water from open wells, and were reused for octopus fishing. The fishermen of the territory used the name cadups, a name originating from Tarragona, to refer to these containers.

Matés took into account a catúfol model that had been made in the Empordà and that he himself had found in the Terracotta Museum , through a themed search.

The specimen found by Matés was made of black ceramic and was very narrow, as a rope was tied to it to stretch it. In the project it was not necessary to maintain the exact central diameter and the potter enlarged it so that the octopuses could fit better as well as increase the feasibility for the study, because in the follow-up period the biologists would have to analyze the interior of each and required to be able to insert the hand freely.

Finally, they were fixed to the lines with two sizes of cadups, large and small, to respond to the variety of octopuses. From this moment on, the catúfols or cadups are called pots or shelters, and they are all identified with an engraved number.

Helical anchors

Another aspect of the Un Pop de Gram project is the search for a suitable anchor that can support the lines of ceramic pots and, at the same time, not cause discomfort to the fishermen.

The chosen alternative was the work of Josep Elizalde, blacksmith at Construccions metalliques y seralleria de L’Estartit (Torroella de Montgrí). The task was to make barres similar to those used by the Generalitat de Catalunya for the subjection of buoys in the Medes Islands.

These are black iron elements with a bevel cut on the propeller so that it gnaws properly on the seabed and remains fully buried, while also being strong enough to hold the line in stormy periods.

Although the model is the same, in the case of the Pop de Gram the anchor has a removable upper iron bar, so that it does not remain fixed to the seabed and therefore the bottom is cleaner.

The installation, a unanimous agreement

During the month of April 2022, from the Sepia Project they build the two lines, with the anchoring systems and the pots.

The resulting art was installed, in the month of May of the same year, parallel to the coastline at the depth agreed with the fishermen, within the marine area of ​​the natural park of Aiguamolls de l’Empordà and natural park of Montgrí, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter. To install the line, the vessels of minor arts of the confraternities were involved. The buoy on the surface was also agreed with the fishermen as a sign of the art.