When it comes to a duel to the death between a hungry red octopus and a crab, the smart money's on the octopus, even if the crab in question turns out to be remarkably nimble. After all, the octopus is one of the most intelligent invertebrates in the world, and in this case twice the size of the crab. Despite the crustacean's valiant defence, it seems only a matter of time before it's crushed by the beak of its eight-armed foe.
Then, the unexpected happens.
The battle unfolded in California's Monterey Bay, where divers Patrick Webster and Connor Gallagher caught it on film. And yes, they were as surprised by the harbour seal's game-changing cameo as we were.
"A showdown between predator and prey, locked in a deadly dance," Webster wrote on Instagram. "You'll never believe what happens next!" Considering we fully expected to watch a defiant crab turned into a cephalopod snack – that is usually what happens, barring a seal ambush – he's certainly right about that.
The crab's pinniped saviour is actually a known entity in the area, according to Webster, who works for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Affectionately nicknamed "Whiskers" by local divers, the seal has learned to take advantage of the illumination provided by dive lights when searching for prey. Fortunately, both divers were armed with cameras, so they were able to catch the dramatic intervention from multiple angles.
"We saw him earlier in the dive, but by the time Connor found the octopus, we hadn't seen him in a while and figured he left to go hunt elsewhere," Webster told GrindTV. "He was entirely out of my mind when he swooped in and ate the octopus, so I was completely surprised."
We also have to tip our hats to the duo for the wrestling match audio. Points for extra dramatic tension.
Top image: Jerry Kirkhart/Wikimedia Commons