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Kayaker blessed by a seal, slapped in the face with an octopus

Kayaker blessed by a seal, slapped in the face with an octopus


Loose seal brawl

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A man kayaking off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island was clobbered in the face with an airborne octopus unleashed by a seal, Yahoo7 News reports. But here’s the best part: the entire inter-species aquatic slap fight was caught on camera, so you can watch it as many times as you need to get through the day.

The video shows the seal rearing up out of the water with the octopus clutched in its mouth, and then flinging it at kayaker Kyle Mulinder. Mulinder’s Instagram bio says he’s a GoPro content creator, and he told Yahoo7 News: “My face happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Fellow kayaker Taiyo Masuda, who also describes himself as part of the GoPro family, says in the video’s description that he shot the scuffle on the new GoPro Hero 7 Black.

The GoPro Hero 7 line, officially announced last week, includes a new and improved image stabilization feature called Hypersmooth. “Hypersmooth makes handheld footage look like it came from a stabilized gimbal,” says Verge reporter Sean O’Kane. Even, apparently, when rocking on a kayak while your buddy is being smacked in the head by a cephalopod-wielding seal.

The seal in question is a New Zealand fur seal, says Laura Boren, marine science advisor for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, in an email to The Verge. There’s a big population that lives off the coast of Kaikōura on the South Island, Boren says — which is where the octopus slap was filmed. From picking through New Zealand fur seals’ poop and puke, researchers know that they’re partial to octopus flesh.

These seals aren’t shy about snacking in public, either. Last year, another kayaker in the same area spotted a seal vigorously dismembering a gigantic octopus. “The seal was shaking it like a staffy with its favourite chew toy,” local kayak guide Connor Staple told The Telegraph. That’s how the seals extract bite-sized chunks of octopus, Boren says: “Seals grab an octopus underwater and then take it to the surface where they can better thrash the octopus about to break off bits to eat.”

It’s actually a pretty common sight, she says — except for one thing. “We don’t usually hear of people getting accidentally slapped from it,” she says. “It’s just unlucky or lucky timing for the kayaker who got it in the face.”

Update September 26th, 2018 7:45PM ET: Updated with information from the New Zealand Department of Conservation.