Octopus flees with camera

BY MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 15:51 16/04/2010

What can be best described as a kleptomaniac Octopus was videoed as it stole an underwater camera off the coast of Wellington.

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Wellington man Victor Huang wasn't going to let an audacious octopus get away with his brand-new digital camera.

The amateur camera man and nature enthusiast was diving near the Wahine Memorial between Breaker Bay and Moa Point on Wellington's south coast yesterday when he spotted the "cheeky" thief.

Putting his camera up close to get some footage as the octopus clung to a rock behind a clump of kelp, it suddenly thrust out a tentacle, grasping the camera.

"Out of nowhere it just completely shot straight for me," he said.

In an initial panic, Mr Huang said he "freaked out" for a bit to free his arm before realising the octopus only clung to the camera.

Eventually managing to free its shiny new $700 toy, the octopus swam off with Mr Huang giving chase, while the camera, being used for the first time, continued to record.

"He swam away very quickly like a naughty shoplifter," he said.

The 31-year-old chased it for five minutes until he caught up with it, placed his speargun beneath it and worked it free from the octopuses' mouth.

Not to be defeated, the persistent sea creature then grabbed hold of the gun, refusing to let go.

Now enjoying his unique brush with nature, Mr Huang then swam around with the octopus on his speargun, saying the tentacled sea creature seemed to enjoy the ride, while his workmate whom he had been diving with told him they had to hurry to get back to work.

It never appeared as though the octopus wanted to attack him, he said.

“I honestly believe that it saw the bright blue digital camera and went ‘oh I need that’, you know?”

His parents had seen the video and told him to stop diving, fearing it too dangerous, he said.

Having moved here from San Francisco six years ago to work on animation in the King Kong movie, he said he had fallen in love with the lifestyle and, now engaged to a Kiwi girl, had made the move permanent.

Mr Huang had set out to record the wildlife and scenery around Wellington, saying Kiwis didn’t seem to truly appreciate what was on offer.

“You jump in to the water five metres from work and there’s an octopus,” he said.

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