Saturday, May 18, 2024

Giant Pacific Octopus featured by Vancouver Island filmmaker in new Disney+ series


A renowned and Emmy Award-winning underwater cinematographer from Vancouver Island, Maxwel Hohn and a local expert on octopi, Krystal Janicki have collaborated to unveil some of the Secrets of the Octopus to the world. 

Secrets of the Octopus is an entire National Geographic series which is dedicated to octopi all over the world.

Hohn and Janicki focussed solely on the world’s largest octopus that lives just off the shores of Vancouver Island—the Giant Pacific Octopus. 

“Octopus are cautious animals that spend a lot of their time living in dens,” said Hohn. “They’re so powerful they can actually move boulders to help protect themselves from predators, like hungry sea lions.”

“Giant Pacific Octopus are masters of camouflage, they can change not just their skin colour, but also their texture – they blend into their environment very effectively. It became a real challenge for us to find our hero character.”


According to Hohn, adult Giant Pacific Octopus can weigh up to 33 pounds and have a arm span of up to 14 feet. But despite their size they can be hard to locate and are rarely seen because they live in intertidal zones of depths as great as 6500 feet. 

“Krystal and I spent hours underwater looking for the right octopus,” Hohn explained. 

“We were starting to become discouraged until we saw an arm reaching out of a rocky den. We kept our distance, but as the octopus became more aware we weren’t a threat, she became interested in us too, and eventually came out of her den completely.”

Janicki is a commercial and residential painter from Black Creek, just north of Courtenay. 

She was chosen as the human character for the Giant Pacific Octopus story because of her ability to make bonds with them and is known by locals as the ‘octopus whisperer.’

“I knew nothing about GPOs when I started diving, except they were often seen as ‘villains,’” said Janicki. 

“They were slimy, ominous creatures. But when I finally saw one below the surface, I forgot everything I thought I knew about them and became fascinated. I now know they are curious, gentle, and beautiful.”

“Some of these encounters have made my eyes well up, and I’ve even had goosebumps under my drysuit,” she continued. “I feel they are letting me into their space and their world. It’s such an honour and so very humbling.” 

This Disney+ series, which is now streaming, also features Paul Rudd doing narration and was produced by James Cameron. 

Curtis Blandy

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