Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Who’s up for lunch? A Gull-eating Octopus in Victoria, BC
BirdFellow ^ | 27 April 2012 | Ann Nightingale

Posted on 04/30/2012 5:14:59 PM PDT by Theoria

One of the great things about being a nature lover is that your powers of observation seem to improve. While others are walking by, oblivious to the activities going on all around them, naturalists notice the creatures and the behaviors, especially if they are out of the ordinary.  

Ogden%20Point%20Breakwater%20-%20Craig%20Spence

The Ogden Point Breakwater is a popular spot with folks out for a weekend stroll. (Photo by Craig Spence, sourced online at Flickr.com)

Such was the case on March 24, 2012, a sunny Saturday morning, when Ginger Morneau, her husband Ken, and brother Lou Baker were walking along the Ogden Point Breakwater in Victoria, BC. The breakwater is a favourite spot for locals and visitors, reaching out about a half mile from the waterfront south of downtown. The area is also popular with divers as it is a marine park, populated with interesting fish, marine plants and invertebrates. Walkers strolling along the top of the breakwater can often see marine wildlife in the water below.  

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.

The 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. Octopi 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.

image001

When first spotted, it appeared that the young Glaucous-winged Gull was feeding on something just under the surface...but on further inspection it became clear that the gull was was the prey item. (Photos by Ginger Morneau)

image003

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.  

image004

In less than one minute the gull was drowned, fully submerged and appeared to partially ingested with only its wings still visible. (Photos by Ginger Morneau)

image005

Ginger described the battle as “primal” and although she wanted to rescue the gull, it wouldn’t have been possible due to the sheer drop from the walkway–not to mention that the writhing tentacles of the octopus were more than a little intimidating. So she snapped a few more pictures, aware that she was witnessing a rarely-seen event. There wasn’t time for more–from her first picture to her last, only 53 seconds had elapsed. A couple of others watched the spectacle, but most people just walked on by, unaware of the struggle just fifteen feet below them.  

Gulls will eat octopus, given the opportunity. There’s a decent possibility that the victim in this story might have even been pecking at the octopus before Ginger and her family happened by. We’ll never  know who started this battle, even though we definitely know who won! There are other records of octopus catching and eating sea birds, including reports of one with a den near a boat ramp on Whidbey Island that was seen catching both gulls and Pigeon Guillemots. However, Ginger’s are the only photos we’ve found that document this behavior.  

To commemorate witnessing and photographing this amazing event, Ginger, Ken and Lou went out for a calamari lunch.  

Literature Cited:

Mather, Jennifer A., Roland C. Anderson and James B. Wood (2010). Octopus: The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate (2010).

Sazima, Ivan and Lisandro Bastos de Almeida (2008). The Bird Kraken: Octopus preys on a sea bird at an oceanic island in the tropical West Atlantic. Marine Biodiversity Records, 1 , e47 doi:10.1017/S1755267206005458


TOPICS: Outdoors; Pets/Animals
KEYWORDS: bird; birding; canada; gull; octopus
Good catch by the birders. Octopus are pretty badass.

The famous Shark Vs. Octopus video.

1 posted on 04/30/2012 5:15:04 PM PDT by Theoria
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Theoria

Story has one error. NO way the octopus ingested the gull in under a minute. The octopus has a neak..like a parrot’s beak..very sharp..it throws its mantle over the prey, then leisurely tears it apart and eats it..


2 posted on 04/30/2012 5:20:47 PM PDT by ken5050 (FRACK Obama!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

Story has one error. NO way the octopus ingested the gull in under a minute. The octopus has a beak..like a parrot’s beak..very sharp..it throws its mantle over the prey, then leisurely tears it apart and eats it..


3 posted on 04/30/2012 5:20:59 PM PDT by ken5050 (FRACK Obama!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

Story has one error. NO way the octopus ingested the gull in under a minute. The octopus has a beak..like a parrot’s beak..very sharp..it throws its mantle over the prey, then leisurely tears it apart and eats it..


4 posted on 04/30/2012 5:20:59 PM PDT by ken5050 (FRACK Obama!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

Octopi are about as smart as a cat. If fact they are almost the full-water version of a cat.

They like humans, and will stay with you in the water if you don’t pose as ANY kind of threat, just like cats.


5 posted on 04/30/2012 5:21:13 PM PDT by HighWheeler
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

They used to keep an octopus in a big tank over at the Hatfield Science Center on the Oregon Coast. Faculty who worked late would hear a big SPLAT & come running with dustpans to put it back. For some reason, it wanted out!


6 posted on 04/30/2012 5:23:55 PM PDT by Twotone (Marte Et Clypeo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

Wow; never saw that one before. Thanks, T.


7 posted on 04/30/2012 5:24:16 PM PDT by carriage_hill (((.)))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ken5050

I think the 53 seconds is in reference from gull appearing alive to gull being drowned, then pulled under for thanksgiving dinner.


8 posted on 04/30/2012 5:24:28 PM PDT by Theoria (Rush Limbaugh: Ron Paul sounds like an Islamic terrorist)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

I’ve seen an octopus do this up on Sonora Island - assassin of the deep! These octopi will scuttle in and out of the water at low tide to grab likely looking eats on the shore.

Between them and the black bears, it’s a wonder any crabs lived on the rocky strand at all!


9 posted on 04/30/2012 5:29:57 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Mass murder and cannibalism are the twin sacraments of socialism - "Who-whom?"-Lenin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

Talk about bad ass, Cod will attack an octopus, and will spin furiously to twist off an appendage. The Octopus is doomed once it loses 3 or 4. I wish I could find the video on the net.


10 posted on 04/30/2012 5:32:13 PM PDT by King Moonracer (Bad lighting and cheap fabric, that's how you sell clothing.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: HighWheeler

“Octopi are about as smart as a cat. If fact they are almost the full-water version of a cat.”

They can’t be that smart or they would never even think about eating a sea gull, rats with wings is all they are!


11 posted on 04/30/2012 5:32:42 PM PDT by trapped_in_LA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: trapped_in_LA

Maybe, but cats eat mice, cockroaches and other animals that I bet you wouldn’t eat either.


12 posted on 04/30/2012 5:44:48 PM PDT by HighWheeler
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: HighWheeler
will stay with you in the water if you don’t pose as ANY kind of threat, just like cats.

i don't what cat you got that will stay with you in the water. did you mean catFISH?

13 posted on 04/30/2012 5:52:53 PM PDT by beebuster2000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Theoria
Ginger described the battle as “primal” and although she wanted to rescue the gull,...

Good gravy, Ginger. Grow up. The natural world of Mama Gia is cruel.

14 posted on 04/30/2012 6:15:09 PM PDT by Clock King (Ellisworth Toohey was right: My head's gonna explode.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: beebuster2000

“Octopi are about as smart as a cat. If fact they are almost the full-water version of a cat.”

— — —

That was an example of a simile.


15 posted on 04/30/2012 6:16:18 PM PDT by HighWheeler
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: HighWheeler

that put a simile on my face.

that was a pun.


16 posted on 04/30/2012 6:47:10 PM PDT by beebuster2000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Theoria

What a stupid line.

**To commemorate witnessing and photographing this amazing event, Ginger, Ken and Lou went out for a calamari lunch.**

They ate squid to celebrate an octopus eating a bird.


17 posted on 04/30/2012 6:57:40 PM PDT by US_MilitaryRules (Unnngh! To many PDS people!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: US_MilitaryRules

Not a stupid line at all.

Gourmets Ginger, Ken and Lou prefer calamari that taste like seagulls.


18 posted on 04/30/2012 7:52:54 PM PDT by Graewoulf ((Dictator Baby-Doc Barack's obama"care" violates Sherman Anti-Trust Law, AND U.S. Constitution.))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Theoria
That's no octopus...it's


19 posted on 05/01/2012 4:21:05 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson