Dozens of octopuses were spotted emerging from the ocean every night for the past few days along the Welsh coast in what is being touted as a rare occurrence.
As many as 25 curled octopuses were seen three nights in a row including Friday at New Quay beach in Ceredigion in west Wales. Brett Stones, the owner of SeaMor Dolphin Watching Boat Trips which ran dolphin tours in Cardigan Bay told the BBC he saw the octopuses as he returned from a day at sea and added it was unusual for them to come onto land.
“It was a bit like an end of days scenario,” he said. “There were probably about 20 or 25 on the beach. I have never seen them out of the water like that.” He also offered a possible explanation for their behavior: “Maybe they are getting confused by the bright lights in New Quay harbor and maybe they are dying off after summer or getting knackered after the recent storms.”
Pictures and videos of the octopuses were also posted on social media.
Stones encouraged people to help the octopuses back into the sea when they saw them and said some of the wayward creatures had later washed up on the beach and were found dead.
He told the Telegraph: “They usually hide in the rocks some two or three meters below the surface. We’ve tried to put them back in the sea where we can but we have found a few dead ones on the beach in the mornings which suggests they may have got confused and stranded.”
The curator at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, James Wright, also told the newspaper that while he was aware of two other incidents of curled octopuses roaming in north Devon and Wales in the past week, the number witnessed in Ceredigion was very unusual.
“This account of a number on the same beach is quite odd,” he stated. “But them even being found in the intertidal is not common and suggests there is something wrong with them I am afraid.”
“As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behavior coincides with the two areas hit by the two recent low-pressure depressions and associated storms of Ophelia and Brian, it could be supposed that these have affected them,” Wright added. “It could simply be injuries sustained by the rough weather itself or there could be sensitivity to a change in atmospheric pressure.”
Steve Simpson, a lecturer in marine biology at the University of Bristol, said it was incredibly rare for octopuses to venture on dry land: “They are fairly vulnerable on land and it’s hard to imagine they have found a new food source. They may be aggregating to reproduce but they do tend to be territorial and solitary,” he told the Telegraph.
However, this is not the first time octopuses have been seen coming onto land. In 2011, an octopus was filmed crawling over dry land at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County, California. In 2016, Inky the octopus which resided in the National Aquarium of New Zealand, crawled across the room and disappeared down a drainpipe into the sea.
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