Earlier this week, a brilliant video did the rounds on the ol’ interweb of a seal using an octopus to slap a kayaker in the face.
It’s a surprising video, and one that obviously startled the poor guy who was on the receiving end of an octopus’ tentacle right in the kisser.
Taiyo Masuda caught the crazy moment on camera when he and a group of friends were paddling off the coast of Kaikoura, on New Zealand’s South Island.
You can remind yourself of it here:
Floating along fairly peacefully, the seal bursts out of the water and flings the octopus in Taiyo’s friend Kyle Mullinder’s face, which Taiyo luckily filmed on his GoPro HERO7.
Speaking to Yahoo7, Kyle said:
We were just sitting out in the middle of the ocean and then this huge male seal appeared with an octopus and he was thrashing him about for ages.
According to Kyle, the fight between the seal and octopus disappeared beneath the water again before coming back up, with the seal whipping the octopus right into his face.
He thrashed it in mid fight and my face happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was like ‘mate, what just happened?’ It was weird because it happened so fast but I could feel all the hard parts of the octopus on my face like ‘dum dum dum’.
After the slap, however, the fight wasn’t over, as the octopus attached itself to Kyle’s kayak, and he could only get it off with the help of the others around him.
While many people lapped up the surprising video, some people were a bit more conscientious, and wondered – why would a lovable seal do such a thing?
Well, according to the LiveScience, it’s not uncommon behaviour for seals.
Apparently, seals have got a rather refined palette, and sometimes like to tenderise their meat before consuming it. Seals have been known to beat their prey against rocks and hard surfaces in order to stun it and make it easier to eat.
In this instance it seems the seal saw the hard shell of Kyle’s kayak and thought ‘that’ll do’, so whacked the octopus up against it to try and stun the animal into submission.
Bottlenose dolphins have also been seen tenderising octopuses before eating them. A study from 2017 observed dolphins off the coast of Australia shaking their prey on the water’s surface and tossing the octopuses into the air several times.
This is because, even after they’ve died, octopus tentacles can still attach themselves to surfaces. Meaning that, even during eating, the tentacles could attach themselves to the inside of a dolphin or seal and choke them.
In order to combat this, the animals try to break down the octopus flesh by flinging it around, breaking down the octopuses muscles and wearing out its reflex responses.
Turns out, if you’re a dolphin or seal, it’s actually alright to play with your food!
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.