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Feb 17, 2014 08:42 PM EST

Scuba Divers In Carmel, California Encounter Giant Pacific Octopus (VIDEO)


It wasn't the giant octopus of lore, but it was unusually large for the depth at which scuba divers Warren Murray and David Malvestuto were swimming (80 feet) off the shore of Carmel in northern California. Even more surprising was when the 20 foot sea creature (from tentacle to tentacle) tried to consume the camera, the NY Daily News reported.

"I wasn't too worried. Generally they are not too interested in people. They'll just take off," Murray, who was holding the camera as it was enwrapped, told the Daily News. "I was thinking he would take off as soon as I got close to it. When he wasn't moving, I was excited."

Luckily, Malvestuto was also filming. Murray kept his cool long enough for the octopus to explore until it swam away. At one point, it had even made contact with his hands and looked poised to swallow him whole.

"I was a little concerned ... but we both knew they are harmless," Malvestuto said. "He was very cool and collected. I wanted to make sure nothing bad would happen."

Resembling a large rock, the octopus surprised the two divers, who weren't involved in a study, but were simply out to shoot film -- hoping something exotic would swim past their lenses. They weren't, however, expecting a Giant Pacific Octopus.

"It's very rare to see that type of octopus in the 80 feet of water we were in," Malvestuto said.

Giant Pacific Octopus are typically found at depths of 200-600 feet, part of the reason why they're one of nature's more mysterious creatures. Average size is about 16 feet (making this one above average); the largest one ever seen was 30 feet long and weighed 600 pounds, according to National Geographic. Their numbers aren't accurately known. Though they aren't believed to be endangered, they may be sensitive to environmental changes such as pollution.

Described as highly intelligent and shy around humans, they are nonetheless trained killers, capable of taking down sharks and birds with their sharp beaks but preferring shrimp, clams, lobsters, and fish.

Malvestuto and Murray, a professional scuba driver who teaches a class on underwater photography, are part of a local diving scene that prizes proof over stories, according to the Daily News. That's why they bring high end cameras on their outings.

"I was thinking (about that rule) in the back of my mind," he said. "I wanted to capture as many pictures as I could."

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