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See the video of a seal slapping a kayaker with an octopus? Experts have a theory why

A video from New Zealand shows a kayaker named Kyle Mulinder get slapped by a seal with an octopus off the coast of Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island. Experts say the seal probably was trying to rip the octopus apart.
A video from New Zealand shows a kayaker named Kyle Mulinder get slapped by a seal with an octopus off the coast of Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island. Experts say the seal probably was trying to rip the octopus apart. Screenshot from Kyle Mulinder's Instagram

On Saturday, Kyle Mulinder says, he was kayaking off the coast on New Zealand when a seal leaped out of the water, thrashed the man with an octopus in its mouth and then dived back underneath.

“I was like, ‘Mate, what just happened?’” he recalled in an interview with Yahoo News. “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’.”

Taiyo Masuda was also kayaking on the trip — and caught the sudden slap on his GoPro, according to USA Today.

Mulinder posted the footage on Instagram, where it has since amassed thousands of views.

He wrote in the video’s caption that he was in the “wrong place, right time.”

“After a fun paddle around the peninsula catching waves we spotted a giant male seal fighting an octopus,” he wrote. “Before we knew it the fight came to us and well the rest is slap to the face.”



So did the seal just have it out for Mulinder, or was there another reason?

Experts have a theory why.

In an email to The Verge, Laura Boren — the marine science adviser for the New Zealand Department of Conservation — said the animal was a New Zealand fur seal. She explained that it was just trying to get a tasty meal out of the octopus, one of its favorite animals to eat.

“Seals grab an octopus underwater and then take it to the surface,” she told The Verge, “where they can better thrash the octopus about to break off bits to eat.”

Rochelle Constantine, an associate professor at School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, agreed with Boren’s theory, according to USA Today. She explained to the outlet that seals try to rip off the tentacles to eat them one at a time.

“I have seen seals doing this before, it’s not an unusual sight but normally there isn’t a person in the way,” she wrote to USA Today. “Often we see (seals) swallowing the tentacle at the surface like a large strand of spaghetti.”

No matter what reason, Mulinder said it’s an experience he’ll probably never forget.

“I’m not sure who got more of a surprise the seal, the octopus or me,” he wrote on Instagram. “Either way the octopus held on to 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.”

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy captured video of a white shark launching out of the water with a seal in its mouth about 100 yards from the beach off Wellfleet, Mass.

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