There’s a mysterious octopus invasion taking place on the beaches of Western Britain—and it could be an unexpected consequence of the hurricane season.
Brett Stones, who runs the SeaMôr dolphin-watching company in the Ceredigion area of Wales, saw around 25 octopuses climbing along the beach on Friday.
He posted a video of the creatures to his company’s Facebook page. Having lived in the area for all of his 39 years, Stones tells Newsweek, he has “seen it occasionally after a storm,” but “to see that many coming out of the water is unusual.”
He told the BBC it was like “an end of days scenario.”
Since Friday, he has seen several more of the creatures—and spurred on by media coverage of his viral video, people have been coming to his business, reporting more findings and asking the best way to help the stranded cephalopods.
But Stones isn’t sure what’s causing the invasion; the animals could be disoriented, he speculates, or they could be ending their lives after spawning, which he says takes place at this time of year.
But James Wright, Curator at The National Marine Aquarium in Southern England, says the video may be just one part of a wider trend.
“I had heard one or two accounts all through last week of some being found in the intertidal zone (i.e. where the tide comes in and out), along the north Devon coast and also Welsh coasts,” he tells Newsweek in a statement.
“This account of a number on the same beach though is quite odd, but them even being found in the intertidal is not common.”
“As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behaviour coincides with the two areas hit by the two recent low pressures depressions and associated storms of Ophelia and Brian,” Wright continues.
“It could be supposed that these have affected them. It could simply be injuries sustained by the rough weather itself or there could be a sensitivity to a change in atmospheric pressure.”
Storm Ophelia lashed Ireland with hurricane-force winds and sparked harsh weather in the U.K., while Storm Brian brought further tempestuous conditions.
Wright says the octopuses “are a very common species in our waters, being called the Curled Octopus (Eledone cirrhosa), normally though you would only expect to see them if you were scuba diving at night, or possibly after they have been fished out in crab pots.
“They are very secretive and spend much of the day hiding only to come out to feed at night, on their favourite food of crabs. Octopus out in the day and in the intertidal zone suggest there is something wrong with them, I am afraid.”
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