Canadians Rescue Eagle Locked in Mortal Combat With Octopus

Workers at a fish farm in Canada captured shocking video of a bald eagle struggling with an octopus before they rescued the bird from the mollusk's clutches.

Employees at Mowi West Canada's Mahatta West farm in Quatsino posted the clip on their Facebook page.

Rescuing an Eagle from an Ocotpus

Our staff at our Mahatta West farm in Quatsino rescued an eagle that had bitten off more than it could chew when it tried to catch an octopus. They are used to seeing the wonders of nature around them on a regular basis, but they knew that this was a once in a lifetime experience. The octopus swam away unharmed and the eagle recovered on a branch for around 10 minutes before it flew away.

Posted by Mowi Canada West on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

They were alerted to the situation when they heard the bird's panicked shrieks as the giant Pacific octopus wrapped its tentacles around its body, trying to pull it beneath the surface of the water, local news station CTV reported. Crews were just wrapping up work for the day when the animals came near the facility, the eagle floating on the surface of the water as the octopus constricted around it.

The manager of the Mahatta West farm, John Ilett, told the outlet he quickly realized that the conflict would be fatal for the great bird and realized that they needed to break it up before it was killed.

"When you're in the moment, it was heart-wrenching," Ilett told CTV. "I couldn't let an animal die in front of me."

octopus swimming pacific ocean
An octopus swimming in the Pacific Ocean pclark2 / Getty Images

He grabbed a pike pole, a long rod with a hook at the end, and used it to pull the struggling animals aboard their boat. Once there, they extricated the bird and threw the octopus back into the water.

The octopus was able to swim away under its own power, while the eagle rested on a nearby tree for around ten minutes before flying off, according to workers.

"It was a very cool situation," Ilett told CTV. "I've been out here 20 years and that's one of the coolest things I've ever seen."

Octopuses are known as generalist predators, which means they will attempt to eat whatever is nearby. Although they primarily subsist on crustaceans, their diet can include birds, as several instances have been documented of the mollusks seizing upon unsuspecting seagulls as they forage in the water.

An eagle attack is significantly rarer, as the large birds do not spend much time at the surface of shallow waters where octopuses are typically found, Laura Parfrey, an assistant professor of botany and zoology at the University of British Columbia, told CTV.

Giant Pacific octopuses can grow to weigh as much as 115 pounds and live for 3-5 years in the wild, significantly longer than many other octopuses, which have a single-year life cycle.