B.C. woman captures battle between a sea lion and an octopus

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“An interesting swim,” is how Nanaimo resident Lindsey Bryant modestly tagged a recent Facebook post. In fact, she had captured a battle between a sea lion and an octopus in the Strait of Georgia off the coast of Vancouver Island.

The three-and-a-half-minute video opens with the large marine mammal thrashing and hopping in the water as though in distress. But at about the 40-second mark there’s a brief glimpse of its tentacled adversary. Shortly after that, the sea lion rears out of the water and flings the octopus across the surface like a skipped stone. The battle continues.

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Bryant had been at the water’s edge in preparation for a cold-water swim when the event unfolded in front of her. She wasn’t even certain what she saw until later that day.

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“The octopus appears to have put up a really good fight,” she wrote on her post. “The sea lion looked to be struggling hard at a few points. I thought it was a fish, until I got home and checked the frames in the vid.”

She added: “I actually thought the sea lion was tangled in something. For a minute, he went into a dead float. The octopus made him work for it. I can’t confirm the outcome … there could be a quatropus out there.”

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The video has attracted more than 200,000 views in the several days since it was posted, and has garnered media attention from across Canada and around the world.

“I think it’s a nice break with everything going on in the world,” she told CTV News in Vancouver. “Just to see some nature and something a little bit different.”

Her Facebook page includes some other amazing nature footage, including a more prosaic sea-lion-vs-fish encounter, a “fogbow,” and some beautiful cloudscapes and sunsets.

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As crazy as the encounter sounds, it wasn’t the first time such a melee had been witnessed and captured on video. A 2010 post of “Alaska Fish & Wildlife News” from the state government shows images of a Steller sea lion battling a giant North Pacific octopus. Marine biologist Sherry Tamone said it could take some effort for the sea lion to make a meal of it.

“The octopus can wrap itself around the head of the sea lion and it can bite pretty fiercely,” she said. “Their beak looks a bit like that of a parrot and each bite delivers some nasty chemicals.”

A similar video from 2016 shows a sea lion versus octopus encounter off the coast of New Zealand.

But it’s hard to beat the 2018 incident in which a kayaker off the coast of New Zealand’s south island got smacked in the face by an octopus that was wielded by a New Zealand fur seal. “That was mental,” shouts one of the man’s companions, although the recipient of the slap seems to take it in stride, merely noting: “I hate octopuses.”

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