Pacific octopus encounter in Alberni Inlet captured on video, mesmerizing millions: ‘It’s so cool!’

Brooke Sirah
Vancouver Island's Brooke Sirah quickly pulled out her phone and captured a video of the octopus, posting it to TikTok, where, to her surprise, it surpassed 32 million views and 1.7 million likes, plus tens of thousands of comments.

A Vancouver Island photographer’s fishing trip turned into the experience of a lifetime when an octopus’ bulbous head, large eyes and eight arms covered in suction cups emerged from the Alberni Inlet.

It was a northern giant Pacific octopus clinging onto an ocean catch, leaving Brooke Sirah and millions more in awe as the reddish-brown marine cephalopod enveloped the fishing net filled with prawns.

“Well, I guess my reaction was kind of caught on camera,” Sirah told CHEK News, alluding to her now-viral video of the encounter, which was uploaded Wednesday.

“I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in the boat and they called me. They’re like, ‘Brooke, you have to come and see this! It’s so cool!'”

Sirah quickly pulled out her phone and captured a video of the octopus, posting it to TikTok, where, to her surprise, it surpassed 32 million views and 1.7 million likes, plus tens of thousands of comments.

“I wasn’t expecting it to go that viral. I’ve never experienced that before either. There are so many people messaging and commenting, and I’m just like, ‘Oh my, I don’t know what to do!'” exclaimed Sirah.

“(The fishing trip was) just for fun. We have a cabin down the Inlet, so we’re just spending a few days down there,” she said, noting her two uncles, Shareef and Saffi, were also on board the boat.

“That was our last trap that we pulled up, and we headed back to the cabin right after that.”

@brookesirah Today’s catch caught us!  The octopus held on for a bit then let go and swam back down. Coolest signt i’ve seen!  #pacificoctopus ♬ original sound – brookesattar

During the video, Sirah is heard saying, “Holy! You’re kidding, that is so huge!” while one of her uncles says, “I want to eat it…'”

The octopus’ appearance, albeit brief, lasted about two minutes before it slipped back into the ocean, according to Sirah.

“A lot of the comments are asking, “Oh my gosh, did you guys eat it?” No, we didn’t. We let it go,” she said with a laugh.

“We were making jokes, for sure, but we didn’t really want it to hurt us, and we didn’t want it to hurt itself. It was so big, we didn’t even know how to deal with it.”

The giant Pacific, or enteroctopus dofleini, is the largest, longest-lived octopus species and is known to inhabit temperate waters ranging from California to B.C., and from Alaska to Japan, according to Nature Conservancy Canada.

Marine experts say the creature measures an average of five metres, typically lives for three to five years, and, like other octopus species, is very smart, with some known to open jars and complete mazes.

Just ask scuba diver Andrea Humphreys, who was greeted by a Pacific octopus with extended arms, then a full-body hug, and finally a kiss, lip to tentacle.

On Oct. 15, Humphreys’ encounter was also captured on video, immersing viewers into more shallow, three-metre-deep waters near Argonaut Wharf in Campbell River.

“I’ve been diving for 12 years. I have never had that. It was just mind-blowing, and it was so incredible,” said Humphreys, a school teacher who has done more than 675 dives worldwide.

READ ALSO: B.C. diver shakes a leg with giant Pacific octopus, in ‘mind-blowing’ encounter

“Its tentacles were reaching through the camera to feel my face and then, at some point, it had crawled on my body, on my hips, and was giving me a hug,” she said.

“And it had tentacles up and around my mouth and it was sucking on my lip, which is the only exposed part of my body.”

It’s mesmerizing stories like Humphreys, and now her own, that first pushed Sirah, a nature-turned-wedding photographer, to make a career out of her passion behind the lens.

“I wasn’t really expecting a huge octopus. You never really know what you’re going to bring up, but I was not expecting that,” added Sirah.


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-With files from The Canadian Press

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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