This seal apparently had a bone to pick with a kayaker after slapping him in the face with an octopus.
There are a lot of dangers in the open ocean, with most people naturally gravitating towards shark attacks. But there’s way more to be afraid of, such as the Irukandji jellyfish whose sting isn’t so much painful as it leaves you with suicidal depression. Or the terrifying harpoon snail, whose deadly harpoon can shoot out and kill a fully grown adult human.
A seal armed with an octopus is usually pretty far down the list of terrifying sea creatures. Actually, it might not have even been on the list until a man in New Zealand recently got slapped in the face by one.
On September 22nd, a group of kayakers set out to film the incredible New Zealand coastline as part of the launch event for the GoPro HERO7 camera. Our cameraman, Taiyo Masuda, was using such a camera to capture beautiful footage of the clear sunny day as the kayakers made their way along the coast.
At one point he noticed a life and death struggle between a seal and an octopus off in the distance. This isn’t all that uncommon a sight: the New Zealand fur seal loves to dine on octopus, and will often capture the cephalopod and drag it to the surface in its attempt to devour it.
Octopuses are slippery creatures, so the seal can’t just rely on its jaws to the do the job. The octopus can squish down and use its sticky tentacles to easy extract itself from the mouth of a predator.
Instead, the seal will try and tear off tentacles by whipping its head back and forth above the water’s surface. Then it will slurp up the tentacle and go back for more until the disarmed octopus body is ripe for eating.
Usually a kayaker isn’t in the way.
However, Kyle Mulinder was the unfortunate soul to have the honor of being slapped by an octopus when the seal wandered a little too close to the kayakers without noticing. His stunned expression says it all as the other kayakers all howl in delight at the once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
The octopus, by the way, managed to escape the seal by clinging on to the underside of the kayak with its remaining tentacles. And don’t worry: lost tentacles grow back.