Up to 25 of the cephalopods end up on dry land, possibly confused or injured by the recent storms
Dozens of octopus have been spotted emerging from the ocean and crawling along the Welsh coast in a nightly pilgrimage that has perplexed people at a seaside town.
Up to 25 curled octopuses, which grow to a length of 50cm, were seen three nights in a row at New Quay beach in Ceredigion in west Wales. Some of the wayward cephalopods were later found dead, washed up on the beach.
Brett Jones, who runs SeaMr dolphin-watching boat trips, said he first witnessed the phenomenon when he was returning from a sunset trip.
It was a bit like an End Of Days scenario, he told the BBC. There were probably about 20 or 25 on the beach. I have never seen them out of the water like that.
He said it was really rare for the creatures to end up on dry land, adding: Maybe they are getting confused by the bright lights in New Quay harbour and maybe they are dying off after summer or getting knackered after the recent storms.
Jones told the Telegraph that in his experience curled octopuses usually hide in the rocks some two or three metres below the surface.
He said he had tried to return the crawling creatures back to the sea where possible. We collected the ones that were totally out of the water, and plopped them back in at the end of the pier, hopefully saving them from getting stranded, he said.
However it wasnt enough to save them all. He encouraged anyone who saw land-hugging octopus to return them to the water, but warned: Wear gloves, they bite like mad.
The curator at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, James Wright, told the Telegraph 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 quite odd … and suggests there is something wrong with them.
As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behaviour 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 said. It could simply be injuries sustained by the rough weather itself or there could be a sensitivity to a change in atmospheric pressure.