Monday, May 7, 2012

Sea Monsters: Fowl Meal

As hard as it is for me to comprehend, it appears that the post you are reading is the 900th here at Triple P. So as a special treat, let’s talk about a giant Pacific octopus making a meal out of a Glaucous-winged seagull.

Evidently, at least according to this article at Bird Fellow where birdwatchers of the Pacific Northwest meet on the web, a lady named Ginger Morneau was out for a stroll at the Ogden Point Breakwater. The Breakwater, which I can state from experience is lovely, is located on the Pacific coast of Victoria, British Columbia. It is a haven for all types of wildlife and many bird watchers and sea creature enthusiasts congregate there to take pictures and videos of the abundant fauna.

Ms. Morneau was strolling the Breakwater on a nice day in late March when she noticed a gull with its head underwater, furiously flapping its ample wings. At first glance, it appeared that the bird was feeding on something just under the waves. A second look, however, told a different tale.

An octopus could be seen below the gull anchoring itself to nearby rocks while pulling the bird under with one massive tentacle. Ms. Morneau snapped a number of pictures and shared her unusual documentation with Bird Fellow. According to her, the entire struggle took no more than a minute. Once the octopus had successfully drown the gull, it pulled the bird bodily underwater and one assumes ate it.

Evidently this behavior is not as atypical as we might think. Both animals are predatory toward one another. Some days the gull eats the octopus, some days it’s the other way around. Ms. Morneau just happened to get evidence of the latter.

Curiously, at least to my mind, the Bird Fellow article notes:

Ginger described the battle as “primal” and although she wanted to rescue the gull, it wouldn’t have been possible

I can’t quite wrap my head around why she wanted to rescue the gull. Nature isn’t sweet and an octopus, just like every living thing, needs sustenance. Everyone perceives things differently, of course, but I say good on you octopus. A gull’s a fine meal, if you can get it.

Header: Octopus vs. seagull, photo by Ginger Morneau via Bird Fellow


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! I agree with you on the issue of the octopus "winning" but maybe Ms. Morneau is a bird lover. Hey, some days you eat the octopus, some days the octopus eats you...

I'm still having a hard time understanding how the octopus is going to eat the bird. Does it devour the whole thing, feathers and all, or does it just tear out the innards and eat that part? (I guess the latter since one of the captions on the pictures in the linked article says the gull was "partially ingested with only its wings still visible")...

Regardless, congrats on post number 900! That's a lot of work. I know it is a labor of love for you, but there are a lot of us (not just me) out here who really enjoy what you have done and are continuing to do with your blogs.

Keep up the great work!

Pauline said...

Yeah, that's what I thought too. It's easy for people to feel sorry for the prey animal; like that footage we saw of the polar bear tearing up the walrus. Polar bear's gotta eat, though.

And that's my understanding; the octopus will eat the "soft" parts of the seagull's body and leave things like wings, feet and beak for scavengers.

Thank you for the kind words; I know I can always count on you to make me feel like I'm not talking to myself in an empty room :)