n incredibly rare octopus invasion of a Welsh beach may have been caused by recent storms that battered the Irish Sea, experts fear.
More than 20 of the solitary creatures were spotted coming out of the water in New Quay, Ceredigion, and crawling up the beach on three consecutive nights, baffling locals, who have never witnessed such a phenomenon.
The curled octopuses, a common species in British waters, are very secretive creatures and usually found at depths of up to 100m.
James Wright, curator at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, said he had heard one or two other accounts last week of some being found in the intertidal zone - where the tide comes in and out - along the North Devon and the Welsh coasts.
“This account of a number on the same beach is quite odd,” he told the Telegraph.
“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 behaviour coincides with the two areas hit by the two recent low pressures depressions and associated storms of Ophelia and Brian, 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, quickly followed by Storm Brian, earlier this month, caused huge waves and storm surges as gusts of up to 80mph hit the Welsh coast.
Dr Steve Simpson, a lecturer in marine biologist at the University of Bristol, said it was “extremely odd” behaviour and incredibly rare for octopuses to venture on dry land in such a manner.
He said: “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.”
Brett Jones, 39, owner of SeaMor Dolphin Watching Boat Trips, was returning the boat after a sunset trip at 10pm when he first spotted the creatures crawling up on to dry land.
He said: “They were coming out of the water and crawling up the beach. I’ve lived here my whole lifetime and have never seen anything like it.
“They usually hide in the rocks some two or three metres 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.”