If you haven’t seen it yet, the above video of a seal off the coast of New Zealand appearing to surface and slap kayaker Kyle Mulinder with the octopus it carries in its mouth will make your day.
While the video seems to show an offended pinniped targeting the kayak and its human paddler for intruding, there’s reason to believe that Mulinder was just in the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place, considering the amount of attention the clip has garnered).
Seals commonly prey on octopi, but as you might imagine, they’re not the easiest meal to catch, eat and digest. The animal’s suckers can remain downright dangerous, even after it’s dead. A common way that predators like dolphins prep such a sucker-covered supper is to basically tenderize it by slapping it around against the surface of the water, according to Livescience.
And as you can see in the below video of another seal versus octopus battle, the seal is exhibiting pretty much the exact same behavior by slapping its prey against the surface of the water.
So it’s possible that the seal in Masuda’s viral video did mean to slap its sucky meal against the side of the kayak, but probably not because the animal hoped to send a warning to the Kiwi kayaker. Rather, it’s more likely it was using him and his boat as a floating prep kitchen.