This is the surprising reason why that seal slapped a kayaker in the face with an octopus
Of all the delights the internet has brought us of late, the video of a kayaker who was hit in the face by a seal wielding a huge octopus (no, really) has to be the crème de la crème.
The incident happened last weekend when New Zealander Kyle Mulinder and his buddies were out kayaking on the South Island off the coast of Kaikoura. Kyle was the unfortunate sod who got the octopus to the face, and his friend Taiyo Masuda managed to capture it all on video.
Sure enough, they'd just stopped paddling to bob around in the ocean after they'd spotted some seals, when one came charging up to the kayak Kyle and Taiyo were sharing. With speed and quite a lot of force, the seal launched itself out of the water, whipping its head to fling the octopus against Kyle, seemingly out of nowhere.
Kyle, who took a second to realise exactly what's happened (this isn't an everyday encounter, after all), seemed shaken but fine. He shared a longer video of the encounter, as well as a more detailed description of what happened on his own Instagram post:
"Wrong place, right time. 😂 Yes I got slapped in the face with an octopus by the seal! I know crazy right.
"Here’s the story. Last weekend I was out testing the new #GoProHero7 with @kaikourakayaks and my mate @taiyomasuda. After a fun paddle around the peninsula catching waves we spotted a giant male seal fighting an octopus. Before we knew it the fight came to us and well the rest is slap to the face 😂 I’m not sure who got more of a surprise the seal, the octopus or me.
"Either way the octopus held onto the bottom of kayak for some time before our guide was able to get it off with his paddle then it swam away to fight another day. True story."
That particular spot is a popular feeding ground for seals, who aren't afraid to get close to the kayakers paddling through.
The motives of the seal doing this were unclear until now, with many people likening its behaviour to that of a common prank pulled amongst mates. Dangers of poisonous or face-hugging octopi aside, it's almost quite comical to see Kyle unexpectedly finding himself on the receiving end of the now-infamous octo-slap.
But seal experts at LiveScience have explained why the seal behaved the way it did. According to them, seals commonly like to tenderise their food before chowing it down. Octopus is a regular in the diet of seals, but that doesn't mean they're particularly easy to eat. They're strong creatures with powerful, sharp beaks, and can often put up a fight when being hunted.
Even after the octopus is dead, their suckers can still grasp and cling on to things, making them quite perilous to eat whole. By shaking the octopus around and beating it up a little, the tissues get damaged and make the suckers less dangerous to eat.
Normally, seals would bang their food against rocks or other hard surfaces found in their natural habitat, but it seems that on that particular day, the seal thought the sturdy-looking kayak would do.
Unlucky for Kyle, he got a bit of a beating too!