B.C. ‘octopus whisperer,’ cinematographer featured in National Geographic series

Krystal Janicki is known around her Vancouver Island community as the octopus whisperer.

The Black Creek, B.C., commercial and residential painter has been diving for nine years and started making connections with the local cephalopods about seven years ago.

“I like to joke that they choose me because I probably look the most awkward and they’re like ‘she needs some help,’ so they come take care of me,” Janicki said with a laugh, though she admits the amount of time she spends in the water likely contributes to her number of unique encounters.

“I had had so many really amazing encounters, super special, but I thought everyone was having those encounters with octopus. But once I started chatting with other divers and more people, I realized it was just special and unique to me.”

Her unique bond with the water-dwelling creatures is now being featured in the National Geographic series Secrets of the Octopus from executive producer James Cameron and narrated by Paul Rudd.

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The series spans multiple countries and species of octopus. It is streaming in Canada on Nat Geo TV and Disney+.

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Janicki was chosen to be the human character for the Giant Pacific Octopus story. She says she met with one of the producers of the series and was asked to help find octopus for the team to film.

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Little did she know that her reputation preceded her, and she was soon asked to be a part of the story. Filming began two years ago.

Joining her was underwater cinematographer Maxwel Hohn. The Emmy award-winning cinematographer from Comox Valley had worked with Janicki before, but still admits filming a shy creature that can blend seamlessly into its surroundings was no easy feat.

The pair spent hours underwater searching for the right octopus and were becoming discouraged, but that’s when a curious creature poked out of its den.

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“It’s like she chose to be with us,” Hohn said in a release. “Every time we returned to the den she would come out to greet us. She even led us on a little tour to other parts of the reef. It was an amazing experience.”

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Janicki says she never expected her bond with the sea creature would lead to her part in the series and she enjoyed working with scientists involved with the series to learn more about nature.

“I don’t think that I’m a celebrity. I never will be, and I don’t want to be,” she said, adding she would rather people appreciate the creatures rather than hunt them.

“I just want to be the stepping stone of people to realize how incredible these octopus are. And just having that respect more for octopus and just for the ocean in general.”


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