Kiwi slapped in face with octopus by a seal

Reader Michael first called my attention to a video that’s all over the internet, but rightly so. After all, it shows a guy in a kayak paddling along peacefull, and all of a sudden a seal emerges from the water and slaps the guy in the face with an octopus! What the bloody hell is going on here? Is the seal mad? Why would he want to sacrifice his meal by slapping a kayaker?

This took place, by the way, off the South Island of New Zealand.

Here’s some possible clues from the Australian Broadcasting site:

Taiyo Masuda, 23, caught the seal on video and says the group did not realise at first what the seals were doing.

“Right around lunchtime, several seals started to swim around, we just thought they were refreshing their body, yet apparently they were seeking food,” Mr Masuda told Reuters.

“One seal swims right next to us, having an octopus in his mouth, pops right up to the surface next to us, then tries to chew up the leg but ended up slapping our face!!”

From the New Zealand Herald:

It all happened when a group of people were out kayaking off the coast of Kaikōura. The group are all official content creators for GoPro and had their cameras on at the right moment.

Kiwi Kyle Mulinder told 7News in Australia that they had watched the seal have a tussle with the octopus for a while.

But they could not have predicted they would end up being involved.

“We were just sitting out in the middle of the ocean and then this huge male seal appeared with an octopus and he was thrashing him about for ages,” he told 7News.

The seal then went off with the octopus and the group thought the tussle was over. They were wrong.

Out of nowhere, the seal re-emerges from the water and slaps Mulinder right in the face with the octopus.

“I was like ‘mate, what just happened?’ It was weird because it happened so fast but I could feel all the hard parts of the octopus on my face,” he said.

The hilarious incident appeared to have put an end to the fight between the two animals as the octopus, once detached from the man’s face, clung onto the kayak for a while.

My guess: the seal was trying to kill the octopus by slapping it against a nearby object (the kayak), and the man happened to be in the way.


  1. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I think the seal was trying to kill the octopus by slapping it around. The kayaker, being a solid object, would be handy to slap the octopus a bit more, a bit more ‘solidly’. Well, that is about the only explanation I can come up with.
    Note, I feel for the poor octopus.

  2. rickflick
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I’d agree with your guess as to motive. I can’t imagine the seal had it in for the Kiwi.

  3. Kieran
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Seals are the cats of the sea and was trying to feed the human, like when cats bring in mice to leave on your pillow

  4. Brian Davis
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen a sea lion tear a fish apart by grabbing one end of the fish in its mouth, and then repeatedly turning its head so the fish is slapped back and forth on the sea surface. It would do this until there were some bite sized pieces to eat, and would repeat the process after eating those. All of this attracted a lot of gulls that wanted to steal bits of the fish.

    • mikeyc
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I’ve watched them do that too. I think Dr PCC(e) is correct – the seal was trying to kill or dismember the octopus.

  5. Tom Czarny
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Love the headline. I immediately conjured an almost Looney Tune-ish image of a Kiwi bird being smacked with an octopus by a seal.

  6. Posted September 27, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I concur. But my inner 12 year old likes to think that the seal (or sea lion) was pranking the humanz.

    • Posted September 27, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I think so too. Seals are smart enough to have a sense of humor. They are also smart enough to know that the guy in a kayak is probably not going to eat the octopus or take it home so he has no expectation of losing his meal. Finally, if the seal had a full stomach already, then throwing your food becomes an option as every dorm rat knows.

  7. James Walker
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who immediately thought of this:

  8. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    For a slightly longer and more coherent video:

    This was off the Kaikoura Coast, which is just recovering from a massive but widely-distributed series of earthquakes a couple of years ago.

    The Coastal Pacific is running again (yay!) and from the open observation car you can often see seals sunning themselves on the rocks as the train passes.

    By the way, my sympathy is with the octopus.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Incidentally, seals are protected, but the earthquake repair crews were issued with an official licence to ‘harass or kill’ seals. Not that they wanted to, and they were required to avoid it if possible, but it avoided legal bother if a seal got hit by a flying rock by accident.

      Hence the intriguingly-worded newspaper report “Transport officials have been given permission to kill seals along the damaged Kaikōura coastline but have promised not to do so.”


  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I love fresh scungilli, served at table-side al fresco, but this is ridiculous.

  10. Logan Moss
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    According to their Facebook page, the researchers at NIWA, New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, also agree with your “guess” about the seal’s intentions –

  11. Posted September 28, 2018 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    I thought it was going to be a proper kiwi!

  12. Heyoka Muse
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I am obsessed with the octopus!!!

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