Huge numbers of octopus spotted off Cornish coast

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Common Octopus in open water - Credit: Shannon Moran

Huge numbers of octopus have been seen along Cornwall’s coastline this month in what experts are describing as a “bumper year” for sightings.

Divers and snorkellers have reported an increase of Common Octopus in Cornwall, particularly around the Lizard Peninsula. Despite its name, this large species of octopus is rarely seen in UK waters and has been recorded by the wildlife charity just twice a year on average.

The Common Octopus is known for its large eyes, soft bag-like body and tentacles which can span up to one metre. Like other cephalopods, their populations fluctuate dramatically as scientists attempt to learn more about their behaviour and abundance. 

Holiday makers and beach goers are unlikely to run into the incredible creatures due to their shy natures and blending abilities. Should you spot them whilst diving, do give them some space and admire their beauty from afar. You can learn more about octopus and other sea creatures here.

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The large body of a Common Octopus - Credit: Shannon Moran

Matt Slater, marine conservation officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, 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.”

Local fishers 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.

This surprising number of sightings comes not long after it was determined that the creatures were able to experience emotions and pain. This means they will have extra animal welfare protections going forward. You can read more about the law changes here

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Common Octopus seen on the Lizard Peninsula in June 2022 - Credit: Shannon Moran

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