A very friendly giant Pacific octopus gave a group of divers in Campbell River a thrill of a lifetime recently.
The group, lead by Andrea Humpreys, spent 40 minutes with the approximately 10-foot, tentacle-tip-to-tentacle-tip octopus which was not shy at all.
“Yeah, I was out with four dive buddies. One of them was visiting here from across the country and has never seen an octopus,” Humphreys said. “And so I’m quite familiar with the dive site and said, ‘Yeah, let’s go find octopus!’”
Even though she know about the site, and she had seen octopus there before, she was surprised by how quickly they found one that day on Oct. 15 near the Argonaut Wharf.
“I found it within two minutes sitting kind of in shallow, 10-feet of water out in the open. In kind of a bit of kelp,” Humphreys said. “And it was unexpected. Like, I was not expecting to find it right there.”
She called her group over and giving the octopus space, observed and photographed it.
“Then all of a sudden, it started to climb all over the guy that had never seen octopus before,” Humphreys said. “So that was really amazing.”
It climbed up his body and onto his face, over his mask and regulator. Then it climbed down and so Humphreys moved into position for some photos and video which attracted the octopus’ attention. It glommed onto her and started climbing onto her. She used her camera system to keep the animal at bay. Needless to say, she got great video footage. Some of her recording was made into a YouTube video which has started to go viral, as they say. That video captures something like the fifth or sixth time the octopus latched onto her.
“It had climbed on my camera like a bunch of times and at one point it was on my body, like, kind of engulfed over my stomach area giving me a hug,” Humphreys said. “The only exposed part of my body was my mouth and several times it had a tentacle up over my mouth and my regulator; on my lip and I could feel it, like, sucking in the suckers on my lip.
“Oh, yeah, it was insane.”
You can see in the video that at one point Humphreys actually tried to back away from the animal but it was having none of that.
“Obviously, I wasn’t approaching it at all, and it was approaching me and so (I kept) backing away from it, and it just, it would ignore everybody else and it would just come towards me; wouldn’t leave me alone for 40 minutes, which I was fine with,” Humphreys said.
Although she was fine with the octopus’ attention, you can hear in the video how exciting the encounter was.
“You can hear my amazement and excitement in the video when I’m, like, screaming and talking into my regulator,” Humphreys said.
Seeing an octopus at the site was nothing new. Humphreys knows of at least 15-20 octopus in that area. Usually, they are hiding in their dens, especially the giant Pacific octopus. More often, you would see the smaller ruby octopus.
The octopus’ behaviour was a bit unusual and explanations for it have included this being the mating season and perhaps it was interested in its reflection in the camera. Humphreys is not so sure about that, though, given how small the lens is.
But that animal, by all signs, did not seem to be in distress or upset. Often when they are upset, they turn a grey colour – octopus can change colour to match their surroundings and mood, much like a chameleon – but this one maintained its red colouring and obviously wasn’t trying to hide. They also eject “ink” when they’re feeling threatened and trying to make an escape, which this one didn’t do either.
One of the cool things about the video, Humphreys said, is that you don’t often get to see underneath an octopus but in her video you get a clear look at the underside with suckers in full view.
Humphreys moved to Campbell River three years ago and teaches in the school district. She is an experienced diver and is enjoying the local diving scene.
“Love it up here. It’s exceptional; world class diving up here.”
Especially when the locals are so friendly.
“Ended up with an octopus hickey on my lip, actually,” Humphreys said.