A YouTube video of a kleptomaniac octopus is taking the world by storm – just days after it stole a Wellington man’s new underwater video camera.
Victor Huang, a Kiwi cameraman and nature enthusiast, was diving near the Wahine Memorial between Breaker Bay and Moa Point on Wellington’s south coast when he spied an octopus clinging to a rock.
Huang – originally from San Francisco – was recording wildlife and scenery around Wellington, and decided to take some footage of the octopus. But the cheeky cephalopod had other ideas. Just as Huang was starting to record, it thrust out a tentacle and grasped the brand-new $700 camera.
"Out of nowhere it just completely shot straight for me. I honestly believe it saw the bright blue digital camera and went ‘oh I need that’, you know," he said.
The light-tentacled octopus took off for a swim around the ocean with Huang giving chase.
Huang’s camera, which was still on, recorded the entire mad dash. He chased the klepto octopus for five minutes before managing to free the camera from its mouth by wiggling a speargun underneath it.
The octopus then took hold of the speargun instead and Huang, now enjoying his brush with the creature, swam around with the octopus on his speargun before returning to work.
Huang admitted that he initially thought the octopus was attacking him.
"In retrospect, it wasn’t attacking me at all. It went straight for the camera and darted away as soon as he had it."
Huang edited the footage taken by the camera during the wild ride and put it up on website YouTube. The video has so far had more than half-a-million views.
Huang moved to New Zealand six years ago to work as an animator for the movie King Kong, and decided to make the move permanent after falling in love with the country. He is engaged to a Kiwi girl.
Online fans show support
YouTube fans of the video were quick to post comments, with many praising Huang for his bravery and quick thinking. Unsurprisingly, the octopus also had plenty of fans and online support that was in awe of the "grand theft ocean".
"This was kind of cute. Mr Octopus has some possessive issues. He needs a girlfriend right now."
"Can’t believe you actually chased that thing. I would have had a major bowel movement if that thing came bounding towards me."
"This octopus is the gangster of the ocean."
"Times are hard, even in the ocean. [The] octopus gotta feed the kids."
Huang’s parents are not as impressed with the octopus’ antics after watching his video. They have asked him to stop diving, fearing it is too dangerous. But Huang said he loves his New Zealand lifestyle.
"You jump into the water five metres from work and there’s an octopus."
Legends of the octopus
There are 42 species of octopus that live in New Zealand, but only a few are commonly encountered. Two of the world’s largest octopus have been found around New Zealand – an incomplete specimen of the giant gelatinous octopus and a giant South Pacific octopus.
According to Māori legend, a Polynesian navigator called Kupe was led to New Zealand by a giant octopus – Te Wheke o Muturangi. The octopus was stealing fish from Kupe’s tribe and they decided to trap and kill it. Kupe, his family and some warriors set out in a large canoe to hunt the octopus, which took them southwards, eventually sheltering near Cook Strait. After a ferocious battle, Kupe killed the octopus by a blow to the head.
Māori caught octopus by hand – baiting the creature by placing one arm in the water, then seizing the body and hauling it out once the octopus wrapped its tentacles around their arm.