Hakai Magazine


One Great Shot: Curious Creature in the Kelp

A photographer diving off the coast of British Columbia captures an encounter with an inquisitive octopus.

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by Bennett Whitnell

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octopus in kelp

On a sunny day in May 2023, I was waiting on a damp boat deck in Rivers Inlet, on British Columbia’s central coast, with other members of the Hakai Institute dive team. Kitted out in heavy gear, we watched the current passing through the narrow inlet, pinched between the open ocean and a fjord. The dark water seethed at the surface.

We planned to explore the channel, and timing was critical. This region brims with challenging yet rewarding dive sites; when the tide changes, it forces water to surge through the tapered passage—like water rocketing out of the end of a hose when you block part of it with your thumb.

The gushing current makes diving tricky, though it also brings a surplus of nutrients, which draws a delightful diversity of underwater species.

When the surface finally calmed, I followed the other divers into the chilly water. We’d nailed the timing: the now-still underwater world was overflowing with life in vibrant colors. The slack period between tides doesn’t last long, though. Before we knew it, the current was increasing again. Our time was almost up.

As we hurried back to the boat, I noticed a pair of eyes peeking above the rippling seaweed. A giant Pacific octopus emerged and came right up to the dome of my camera’s underwater housing. I spent a few minutes capturing images of this curious creature until it got bored with us and took off to hunt, spreading its arms like a liquid umbrella to envelop prey. I returned to the surface feeling euphoric.

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Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Bennett Whitnell “One Great Shot: Curious Creature in the Kelp,” Hakai Magazine, May 9, 2024, accessed May 17th, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/one-great-shot-curious-creature-in-the-kelp/.

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