Octopus sightings surge in Cornwall waters

  • Published
OctopusImage source, Shannon Moran

Unusually high numbers of octopus have been seen along the Cornish coast this month.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) said it had been a "bumper year" for sightings.

Divers and snorkellers have reported increased numbers, and one fisherman caught 150 in a day, compared to his usual total of one or two a year.

CWT said the last significant population boom for octopus was recorded on England's south coast was recorded in 1948.

It is not known whether this year will classify as the first octopus boom in more than 70 years.

Image source, Shannon Moran
Image caption,
Octopus populations are known to fluctuate dramatically with significant booms uncommon but not unheard of

The Common Octopus is a large species and is usually recorded by CWT once or twice a year on average.

Matt Slater, marine conservation officer at CWT, said: "I got really excited when I started receiving messages from our Seasearch divers - not only because sightings of these striking animals are few and far between, but because they'd seen several of them on one dive.

"They are such amazing, alien creatures - one of the most intelligent animals in our oceans - and to witness a population explosion in our local waters would be incredible."

Image source, Shannon Moran
Image caption,
Many of the common octopus sightings have been off the Lizard peninsula

Local fishermen along Cornwall's south coast have also witnessed large numbers of octopus in their lobster pots and cuttlefish traps.

One Mevagissey fisherman reported catching 150 octopuses in a day, compared to his usual catch of one or two a year.

The Common Octopus is known for its large eyes, soft bag-like body and tentacles which can span up to one metre, CWT said.

The Marine Biological Association has reported on octopus "plagues" along the south coast of England from Land's End to Sussex, first in 1899 and most recently in the summer of 1948.

Mr Slater said: "We hope this is a sign that octopus populations are healthy in our Cornish waters, but sadly not all of our marine life is thriving.

"By taking action for wildlife and recording your marine sightings with us, we can build up a picture over time and confirm if occurrences like this are a one off or if octopus populations are steadily on the rise."

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