A diver on Vancouver Island is sharing their extraordinary experience, up close and personal with an eight-tentacled cephalopod.
For many, diving might mean heading to Mexico and looking at the coral reefs and shipwrecks. For Andrea Humphreys, however, diving in coastal B.C. waters is a much more exciting experience.
“Up here, everything is 10 times the size and people always think up here is just dark and dreary and grey and green but the ocean is incredible with all the colours,” said Humphreys. “I describe it as like going on a treasure hunt, you’re always looking for something.”
It is this treasure hunt that came to fruition in a recent dive, where Humphreys had an encounter like no other in her over 600 dives.
In a video posted to Humphrey’s YouTube channel, she is being approached by a giant Pacific octopus on the seafloor. Before she knew it, the octopus had wrapped all eight of its tentacles around her, almost as if it was giving her a hug.
“I’ve never had that type of encounter before, that was unheard of. I’ve seen them, they’ve come up, they’ve put a tentacle on my arm or my body, but never fully engaged,” said Humphreys.
“At first, I was a little hesitant and a little bit ‘ooh what’s it gonna do,’ then I just kind of relaxed and breathed through and I knew my buddies were right there.
“I might have dropped a couple swear words here and there but I was just in complete shock and awe.”
She adds she was “squealing with glee and excitement” and could feel the animal’s suckers on her lips.
“Every sucker felt like a little mini vacuum cleaner sucking on my lip, it was just crazy.”
Humphreys says the video was taken about the fifth or sixth time the octopus approached her and was seemingly drawn to her and not the other divers.
Humphreys says a theory is that the octopus was simply curious and exploring its environment.
“Some people have suggested that it’s mating season so it was seeing its reflection in my camera,” Humphreys said. “Other people suggested it was hungry, but I don’t think so because if it actually was I would probably be missing a finger or two.”
The encounter ranks among the top 10 experiences in her diving, up with sea lion encounters.
It is moments like these, treasure hunts, that keeps Humphreys wanting to do more dives in the area.
“We go and try and find these animals and see them in their environment and see how they live in their environment,” said Humphreys. “Just being able to watch that and see that is just incredible.”