A Vancouver Island diver’s video is getting a lot of attention, capturing a battle royal between a seal and a giant pacific octopus.
Maxime Veilleux says she and her dive partner were near the end of their dive in Nanoose Bay when a seal passed them undersea. She says seals are normally afraid of divers’ bubbles, so they did not expect to see any more of it.
However, a weird struggle ahead caught their eyes, and they were surprised by what they found.
“I used my really strong flashlight to scan the horizon and I saw the seal kind of far away,” said Veilleux. “It didn’t really care that we were getting closer. We saw it upside down and with its mouth, it was kind of pulling at something. I thought it was just algae.
“As we got closer, you can hear me in the video say ‘oh no,’ because it was actually attacking an octopus.”
Veilleux says they were fighting the urge to step in, as they did not want to see the octopus die. She adds the seal would eventually head back up for some air and the octopus tried to seize the opportunity.
“You can see it actually swims right in front of us, and then inks and seal continues to follow it,” said Veilleux.
The seal caught up to the cephalopod, and eventually made off with one of its legs and into the dark of the night dive.
Looking back on the event, Veilleux says it is one of the more profound things she has seen as a passionate diver. She also describes herself as a bit of a ‘nerd’, she adds her favourite part of diving is seeing rare creatures and events and some of them may not be documented.
“We know so little about our oceans, so, even to see a worm that hasn’t been classified yet, to me I find that really exciting,” said Veilleux.
“Seeing sea lions and the seals and the octopus and all that stuff, sometimes we do get to see octopus often but it’s always exciting.”
Veilleux adds that the video has got a lot of comments saying they should have interfered, but she says that is part of nature’s way.
“Harbour seals can get up to 285 lbs, and even though they look really cute they have really big teeth,” said Veilleux. “Giant pacific octopus can be quite strong, and they do have beaks. For us to intervene, it would have been so dangerous.
“At the end of the day, the octopus survived, and the seal got a little snack. It was kind of a best-case scenario outcome.”