A Gull-eating Octopus in Victoria, BC

By | April 30, 2012


As the group headed out along the walkway, Ginger noticed a gull acting strangely a short distance ahead of her. The bird was on the inside of the breakwater, where the water is clear and can be quite still. The gull appeared to be feeding on something underwater, but it didn't raise its head. As they approached, they could see a red-orange shape in the water below the gull. When they got to the spot directly above the gull, they could see that it was an octopus. And Ginger's camera was in her hand.

Giant Pacific Octopus can be seen regularly patrolling the shallows of the shorelines around Victoria. They primarily feed on crustaceans, but are known to occasionally take fish and even birds. Octopus are extremely intelligent animals, and great problem solvers. Although they live only about four years, they can grow to have a span of more than 20 feet and to weigh more than 100 pounds. This one wasn't that large, but it was still an impressive individual. What was even more impressive, though, was that it had one of its tentacles wrapped around the head of the gull, holding it under water.

The first winter Glaucous-winged Gull was struggling, flapping its wings in an attempt to break the octopus's grip, but without success. The octopus's eight tentacled arms allowed it to cling firmly to the rocks and simultaneously maintain its grasp on to the gull. Initially, air was bubbling to the surface, but within a minute, the struggle was over. More tentacles came out of the water to grab the body of the gull and pull it completely under. Other gulls flew overhead, noisily checking out the scene as if to see if there were going to be any scraps, but disappeared once the victim had been pulled from the surface.

via BirdFellow – Birding services, social networking, and habitat conservation.

The octopus probably created a “lure” with one tentacle and may have even camouflaged itself by changing color to match the rocks until the gull took the bait.

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