My own octopus encounter
We have been on Maui for over 6 years now and before Covid we very rarely did tourist stuff because it was a hassle. Now with the way the world is, being a "local tourist" on Maui is pretty fun. About a month ago, we got on the Trilogy sailboat to head over to Molokini crater for some snorkeling. Normally there are a lot of boats, but our company consisted of maybe 2-3 other small boats. The water was very clear and there is a steep drop in depth from the crater back down to the ocean depths. I was using the Scubajet (a small underwater jet motor that straps to your arm) to get to the bottom and cruise around when I noticed a very large eel actively hunting. I have seen smaller eels exhibit this behavior in shallower water and usually they have smaller fish like the aggressive papio following them around. I always wondered what was going on, but I know now that it is hunting behavior and the fish must be waiting for the scraps.
After awhile, the eel found something and luckily I had my GoPro with me and was able to catch the battle. When the octopus finally leaves the hole, it is rapidly flashing colors and expelling ink. Only when you view it in slow motion do you realize that the octopus has already lost one leg. The eel is absolutely brutal and seems like a green death missile when it comes back out to chase the octopus again. This is when the limitations of my breath holding kicked in and reluctantly I headed back up to the surface. I want to be as safe as I can when I am free diving and I was on deep dive number three or four without any surface recovery so I did not want to dive back down right away. I am not sure how the battle ended up, but I did see the eel still hunting around a few minutes later so I am assuming he was unable to get the entire octopus. Eels are brutal and energetic hunters but they are also on the menu for many other fish so they are usually hiding as well, so hopefully the octopus escaped.
Why do I care? Well I recently watched a documentary called "My Octopus Teacher" and this guy goes and interacts with an octopus for a year. It is hard not to love and respect these creatures after watching this movie. It is also hard not to marvel at the differences between us and them. For example - they live very short lives, have no parents, have significant brain power spread throughout their bodies, and have between 100,000 and 500,000 offspring before dying. After watching this cool documentary, I went back through my footage and pulled out this battle and watched it again and decided to make a video going through the experience. Hopefully you find it as interesting as I did. The video is about a minute and a half and is the same footage in regular speed and then slowed down to see the amazing color changing of the octopus and the brutality of the eel.