100 feet down, in the cold dark waters of British Columbia I came face to face with a giant. The Northern Pacific Giant Octopus is a creature of legend. With three hearts and a wingspan of up to 20 feet in length, they can sprint at 25 miles pet hour. Each of their hundreds of suckers can lift up to 36 pounds.
As scary as this all seems, the moments I spent with octopus were unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I found them to be gentle, welcoming me to their underwater kingdom. I was clearly the guest. If the octopus didn’t want me to be there it simply could have disappeared. Or, it could have reached out, taken my dive mask, and made me disappear.
The closest I came to anything scary was getting inked. A giant cloud of ink is pretty much octo-speak for “I’m done with you. Please leave”. Even that I found gentle. And after hanging back for a few minutes, the octopus relaxed and let me come back.
When I look at the image taken by my friend Jason Bradley of me photographing my first octopus I feel humbled. I can’t imagine a more alien environment. But at 100 feet down, the aliens are friendly.