Marine Battle Captured: Rare Footage Reveals Harbour Seal’s Remarkable Feat of Snacking on a Giant Pacific Octopus

It’s also easy to think of the plump little harbour seal as a prey animal: an almost bitesized morsel for orcas and white sharks – and even, at or around haul-outs, vulnerable to coastal grey wolves and brown bears.

But give this wee sea-beastie its due. Harbour seals aren’t just sluglike nappers, great-white popcorn, and orca footballs: They’re also versatile and efficient marine predators, active hunters of a whole array of fishes as well as crustaceans and mollusks.

And while it well outsizes most of its own prey, the seal also sometimes sets its sights on pretty hefty quarry.

Pretty hefty multi-armed quarry, in the case of some rare footage nabbed on January 21st in the coastal brine of British Columbia. Divers off Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island found themselves with front-row seats to a harbour seal’s vigorous attacks upon a giant Pacific octopus:

The giant Pacific octopus is, along with the seven-arm octopus, the biggest of its kind: Large specimens can well exceed 45 kilograms (100 pounds) and, exceptionally, span close to six metres (20 feet) across. We’re talking about as close to the mythical kraken as you can get (if you take that sea monster to be a gargantuan octopus rather than squid).

One of the two divers who witnessed the attack, Maxime Veilleux, a marine biologist, told Victoria, British Columbia’s Times Colonist that this seal-harried octopus was a male roughly two metres (6.6 feet) long. It discharged ink in its attempt to elude the marine mammal, which nonetheless was able to grab and ultimately tear off one of its eight arms.

This isn’t the first seal attack on giant Pacific octopuses caught on camera: In 2015, a harbour seal was photographed dispatching one off Victoria’s Ogden Point, where a couple of years before onlookers had filmed another seal/octopus encounter that didn’t end well for the cephalopod:


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