The fish farmers were on a boat when they spotted the two strange foes struggling in the water nearby on Monday at a salmon-farming operation owned by Mowi Canada West. The company posted the video on Facebook Wednesday.
“We heard a lot of splashing and a screeching sound coming from behind one of the floating buildings,” fish farm manager John Ilett told the Victoria Times Colonist.
He said they thought about letting nature take its course, but ultimately decided to intervene.
“The octopus was trying to drown the eagle, and we couldn’t just stand there,” he told the paper.
A spokesperson for Mowi Canada West confirmed that Ilett and his crew shot the video.
The video shows the bald eagle half-submerged in the water, its wings spread wide and its body hopelessly snared by the brightly coloured octopus. The farmers can be seen using a net on a long pole to snag the trapped eagle and pull it close to the boat.
The clip fades out while the farmers presumably free the trapped bird from the octopus’ tentacles. It fades back in to show the octopus flailing at the net and the bald eagle standing on a branch a few metres away.
“That was amazing,” one of the men can be heard saying. “Look at the size of this s—!” he adds while the camera is trained on the octopus.
The camera then pans to the right, where the eagle can be seen perched on a fallen tree just a few centimetres above the surface of the water.
Three men can be heard marvelling at the size of the octopus just before they tip it out of the net and watch it disappear into the depths.
The camera offers one final glimpse of the eagle, which appears to be holding out its waterlogged wings while it waits for them to dry.
“We saved that eagle!” a man says.
It’s unclear how the battle of talons and tentacles began, but one can imagine. Bald eagles often skim across the surface of the water to prey upon fish, and it’s possible that this one mistook the octopus for an easy meal.
The eagle appeared to have “bitten off more than it could chew when it tried to catch an octopus,” Mowi Canada West wrote on Facebook.
“Our staff … are used to seeing the wonders of nature around them on a regular basis,” the company wrote. “But they knew that this was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Both creatures survived the encounter, Mowi Canada West says.
“The octopus swam away unharmed and the eagle recovered on a branch for around 10 minutes before it flew away.”