Watch: Local scuba diver Jackie Hildering talks about her encounter with a giant Pacific octopus
A local scuba diver is hoping her encounter with a giant Pacific octopus will help break stereotypes around the mysterious creature.
Jackie Hildering was diving in the waters of Port Hardy Harbour with her diving buddy Natasha Dickinson last Sunday when they saw a giant Pacific octopus.
Hildering then went on to document the encounter on her blog.
“How it went down was a complete gift. It goes wrong if you put the octopus on the defensive or force an interaction,” says Hildering.
Hildering was taking pictures of Lingcod when she turned around and saw the octopus clinging to Dickinson’s head.
“I could see this was an incredible exploratory event. Natasha looking right at the beak of the octopus and all the tentacles and the octopus was feeling Natasha.”
Hildering says there was no panic on either the octopus’s or Natasha’s part.
Instead, Hildering says the marine educator kicked in her, and she saw “a remarkable opportunity to reduce the demonification that octopuses are somehow scary,” so she started taking pictures of the encounter.
Hildering says her diving partner knew what she was doing and was not in danger at any point.
“She had her hand on her regulator and her mask,” she says. “We have all kinds of safety protocols. This was a case that allowed us to reveal the true nature of octopus and reveal the wonder of what’s hidden in our cold, dark waters.”
PHOTO GALLERY: The memorable encounter. All photos courtesy of Jackie Hildering.