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Seal slap a kayaker in the face with a gigantic octopus

An unruly seal which shocked a kayaker by throwing an octopus in his face was trying to stun its prey before eating it, scientists have revealed.

The surprising incident was captured on a GoPro camera off the coast of Kaikoura, on New Zealand’s South Island.

Kyle Mulinder was paddling when the seal burst out of the water, launched into the air and whipped the octopus directly into his face.

The seal was trying to stun the octopus and mistook Mr Mulinder for a rock, according to scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand.

The group of content creators were out testing a new GoPro model off the coast of the South Island when Kyle Mulinder (pictured) was caught up in a battle between a seal and octopus

‘Seals will often try and get their prey out of the water and above the surface to gain the upper hand in a tussle,’ NIWA posted on Facebook.

‘Once out of the water they will try flinging them about to stun them.

‘At that point it is normal for a seal to try to fling the octopus against a hard object to tear the octopus apart. So to the seal, the kayaker seemed like a reasonable enough object.’

Mr Muliner said he was sitting in the middle of the ocean when the seal suddenly emerged.

‘I was like ”Mate, what just happened?”’ he said.

angry-seal

‘I was like “Mate, what just happened?”‘ The double-whammy was captured on a GoPro off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand

‘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”.’

He winced and screamed as his peers erupted into laughter.

Although the octopus put up a good fight, Mr Mulinder said the seal came out on top.

‘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’ Mr Mulinder said of the incident

Why seal hit octopus to rock?

The motives of the seal doing this were unclear until now, with many people likening its behaviour to that of a common prank pulled amongst mates. Dangers of poisonous or face-hugging octopi aside, it’s almost quite comical to see Kyle unexpectedly finding himself on the receiving end of the now-infamous octo-slap.

But seal experts at LiveScience have explained why the seal behaved the way it did. According to them, seals commonly like to tenderise their food before chowing it down. Octopus is a regular in the diet of seals, but that doesn’t mean they’re particularly easy to eat. They’re strong creatures with powerful, sharp beaks, and can often put up a fight when being hunted.

Even after the octopus is dead, their suckers can still grasp and cling on to things, making them quite perilous to eat whole. By shaking the octopus around and beating it up a little, the tissues get damaged and make the suckers less dangerous to eat.

Normally, seals would bang their food against rocks or other hard surfaces found in their natural habitat, but it seems that on that particular day, the seal thought the sturdy-looking kayak would do.

Unlucky for Kyle, he got a bit of a beating too!

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