Swimmer spots ‘once in a lifetime’ sight of sea lion battling octopus, video shows

A woman going for a swim in Canada had a “once in a lifetime” wildlife encounter when she noticed a sea lion fighting an octopus, a video shows.

Lindsay Bryant spotted the sea lion splashing off the coast of Nanaimo before a swim on Nov. 16, she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She swims regularly in the area and often encounters sea lions, but something seemed different this time.

“I actually thought the sea lion was tangled in something,” Bryant wrote in a Nov. 16 Facebook post. “For a minute, he went into a dead float.”

“I started recording because I couldn’t figure out why the sea lion was struggling so hard with what I thought was a fish,” she wrote in another Facebook post.

But when Bryant got home and rewatched the video, she realized the sea lion wasn’t eating a fish at all.

It was battling with an octopus.

Bryant shared the video on YouTube. The 3-minute-long video shows a sea lion thrashing about with an octopus. The sea lion flings the octopus forcefully away, then dives underwater and repeats the movement. Seagulls circle overhead.

“The octopus appears to have put up a really good fight! The sea lion looked to be struggling hard at a few points,” Bryant said.

Andrew Trites, a marine mammal researcher at the University of British Columbia, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that sea lions commonly eat octopuses.

“The challenge for a sea lion is to swallow an octopus without the octopus using its eight arms to grab onto the sea lion’s head while it is being swallowed whole,” Trites told the outlet. “The sea lion would suffocate.”

To avoid this, Trites said that sea lions “bite down onto one arm at a time and fling the octopus’ body with all its force to rip off an arm to swallow whole. They do it at the surface because they can get more torque in air than they can underwater.”

Bryant said the encounter made for “an interesting swim.”

“I’m guessing this will be a once in a lifetime sighting for me,” she wrote on Facebook.

Bryant couldn’t tell who won the fight but told McClatchy News via Facebook Messenger that she saw the sea lion tore a few legs off the octopus. The video ends with the sea lion still swimming and thrashing.

Nanaimo is on Vancouver Island, about 50 miles west of Vancouver and about 200 miles northwest of Seattle.

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