Why This Horde of Octopuses Crawled Out of the Sea and Onto Land

Fagjun | Published 2017-11-03 10:21
WTF

Footage shows about 25 curled octopuses crawling out of the sea onto the beach in New Quay, Ceredigion, Wales.

 

Footage by SeaMor Dolphin Watching Boat Trips New Quay. SeaMor is posting updates and more similar videos on their Facebook and YouTube pages.



It was like “an end of days scenario”, according to Brett Stones of the dolphin-watching group SeaMor. He and his group were at the end of an evening’s excursion out on the beach when they spotted something strange in the distance. Something blob-like, yet somewhat familiar, was crawling out of the sea. Upon coming near the creature, the group realized that it was a curled octopus, a species common in the area.

 

The octopus was already 30 feet away from the edge of the water, and it wasn’t the only one. There were two dozens or so more of the creatures, spread out over an area about half the size of a soccer field. Stones, who had lived in Ceredigion all his life, had never seen anything like this happen.



What is Driving These Octopuses to Land?


Image by SeaMor Dolphin Watching Boat Trips New Quay/Wales News Service

 

 

Stones and several others inspected the octopuses for visible injuries or other signs of distress, but they found none. He also managed to take a video of the strange behavior of the creatures. Eventually, Stones and the others decided to use plastic containers to carry the octopuses back into deeper waters and release them back into the ocean. Sadly, when Stones returned to the same area in the succeeding days, he found several curled octopuses lying dead on the beach.

 

When his video, posted on SeaMor’s Facebook page, gained media attention, people had been approaching Stones to report more of the same instances. They also asked what could be done to help the octopuses and keep them from perishing in droves. However, Stones found himself unsure of what caused the octopuses to crawl onto land in the first place.

 

It’s possible, according to Stones, that the octopuses were disoriented, causing them to get stranded on the beach. It’s also possible that the animals had already spawned and were thus at the end of their life. After all, according to Stones, the stranding happened in the same time frame as the octopuses’ known spawning season. However, it’s also possible that this behavior is an example of a wider trend.



Rough Weather


 

 

“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,” James Wright, Curator at The National Marine Aquarium in Southern England, told Newsweek. “This account of a number on the same beach though is quite odd, but them even being found in the intertidal is not common.”

 

Wright also notes that the areas in which the strange octopus behavior occurred had been affected by two low pressure depressions as well as the storms Ophelia and Brian. It’s therefore possible that these weather events had an impact on the octopuses. The weather may have caused a change in atmospheric pressure, to which the octopuses were sensitive. However, it’s also possible that the rough weather caused injuries in the octopuses.

 

Whatever the reason is, Wright says it’s clear that there’s something wrong with the octopuses. However, it may be that only a physical scientific examination of the octopuses will be able to identify what’s wrong.

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