One paddleboarder got the surprise of his life when a giant squid twice the size of his board joined him for a little jaunt in the ocean.
It all went down earlier this year off the Western coast of South Africa, when a paddleboarder named James Taylor went out for a quiet ride.
He saw something large in the clear blue water nearby and paddled closer, thinking it was a piece of kelp or something equally harmless.
It wasn't until he'd pulled up right alongside it that Taylor realized this was no kelp — it was a giant squid.
The jury is still out on whether it was an official giant squid or the smaller Humboldt squid. Whichever one it was, it was right next to Taylor. And at that point, the creature ominously gripped onto the board.
It appeared the squid could be stealthily prepping to take down the paddleboard, one tentacle at a time.
Soon after, however, it became clear it wasn't in great condition. Taylor noticed missing tentacles and bite marks.
He decided he needed to haul the animal back to shore to protect it from further injury and get the help it needed.
The duo was greeted at the beach by loads of curious onlookers.
Back at the coast, the squid, which likely passed on the way back to shore, started displaying some odd behavior. It started to shoot spermatophores from its body.
One expert posited that between that and its peeling skin, which can happen during intercourse, it's possible that the squid was injured during a violent mating session.
The encounter happened back in March. But it wasn't until recently that Taylor shared his experience on Instagram and received international attention for his wild paddleboard ride.
Though his intentions were good, Taylor should have tried to maintain distance from the squid and left it alone. Wild animals are just that — wild — and when we are in their home (i.e., the ocean), they deserve to have their personal space.
Whether people could have helped this squid survive — had it made it to shore alive — is debatable, but the best strategy is always to keep your distance and call the professionals if you spot a stranded or injured animal.
To watch the entire giant squid encounter, check out the video below