A group of Salmon farmers off the northern coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island were returning from their day’s work when they encountered something no one expected was possible. As the group approached their houseboat, they heard loud screeches and flailing in the water. Upon closer inspection, one of the farmers Llett said the team found “a full-sized eagle submerged in the water with a big giant octopus in the water trying to drag it down.” According to him, the Octopus had its tentacles wrapped around the bird and had been trying to drown it for some time. The group was deciding whether or not to step in and help the eagle for a few minutes before their conscience sprung them into action. They maneuvered their boat near the pair and tried to use a pole in their boat to push the Octopus off. “I was able to just latch on to the octopus and give it a little tug,” he said. “It released its grip … which gave the eagle just enough time to get to shore”.

The group of fishermen has decades of experience out on the water, but they said this definitely takes the cake for the coolest experience. “It’s moments like this why I love my job and being out in the environment where I can work and live,” Llett said. “It’s just amazing.” After the encounter, the Salmon farmers wrestled with the possibility they might have done the wrong thing in the situation. “We weren’t sure if we should interfere because it is mother nature, survival of the fittest,” Ilett said. “But it was heart wrenching — to see this octopus was trying to drown this eagle.” In the heat of the moment, the fisherman said they felt empathy for the bird and could not just sit and watch it die. They had to jump in and save the Bald Eagle’s life. “Am I at fault because I’m human and I felt compassion for the bird?” Llett said. “At the end of the day both animals are alive and well and they went their separate ways and we feel pretty good about what we did.”

Bald Eagles have had a rough run with being on the list of endangered and threatened species for decades. In fact, their population dipped to the point where there were less than five hundred nesting pairs in all of North America. They are making a strong recovery though, in 2007 they were removed from that list. However, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act still protect them with severe legal action. If someone harms a Bald Eagle under that act, they could receive a $250,000 fine and as much as two years in prison. These acts have been very effective at recovering Bald Eagle populations. Today, their population has swelled to have more than twenty thousand nesting pairs in North America. You could say that these salmon farmers were simply doing their duty to protect a valuable symbol for North America.