The octopus was fighting for its life. The seal was fighting for its lunch. Kyle Mulinder just happened to be there.
Mulinder was kayaking near Kaikoura, New Zealand, on Saturday when he was interrupted in a very rude way.
“You just feel the tentacles, the suction-y things — I don’t know the right term — but I could feel it, and it hurt,” he said.
It was, he said, a “moment of yuck.”
The moment of yuck, now the subject of a viral Instagram post and international news media attention, was captured by Taiyo Masuda, 23, of Sydney, Australia. Both men are paid ambassadors for GoPro, the camera company, which could not have planned better exposure for the release Thursday of its new Hero 7 model.
Masuda said in an interview they were among a group of about 10 kayakers watching a group of seals relaxing on nearby rocks. When one seal began swimming near the group, he got his camera out, hoping to get some underwater footage.
“We instantly laughed so hard,” he said, before quickly adding, “Kyle was a little more pained.”
Mulinder said he was happy he was slapped only by the end of the tentacle, instead of the “main area,” which he imagined would have been a lot more gross.
After the slap attack, the octopus clung to the bottom of Mulinder’s kayak, and the group’s guide freed it with his oar. The octopus, alive and apparently unhurt, swam away.
“I don’t know who got a bigger fright: the seal, me or the octopus,” he said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Daniel Victor © 2018 The New York Times