Scientists Fumble For Answers As Video Of Octopus Walking Upright Emerges Online

Updated November 7, 2017

Over the weekend, dozens of octopuses left the safety of the water and emerged on shore. The strange phenomenon that has left experts baffled occurred on a beach in Wales in the United Kingdom. More than 20 octopuses left the water and crawled onto land this past Friday night.

Locals were horrified to watch the boneless creatures fleeing the water and climbing on shore at the beach in New Quay in Ceredigion. Some of the animals kept moving up the beach inland while others were dead.

Residents were horrified by the invasion of octopuses. Some think that they could be ashore because the storms destroyed their habitat as they ravaged the area. The Irish Sea was hit hard.

The owner and operator of the SeaMore Dolphin Watching Boat Trips, Brett Stones, started gaping when he saw living octopuses on the beach. They were moving away from the water as if they were trying to escape some invisible enemy. He photographed the scene, which included some that were already dead.

After sharing the photos, Stones interviewed with Wales Online. He said:

“They were coming out of the water and crawling up the beach. We don’t quite know what’s causing it. Perhaps it’s because the sea has been quite rough recently but I’ve never seen anything like it before. They were walking on the tips of their legs.”

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While Stones saw a number of the creatures, his friend found 20 more on another beach. The friend tried to help the surviving creatures back into the water because they apparently had come ashore out of confusion.

Because this was an unnatural occurrence, experts tried to weigh in on it. But they were utterly baffled.

James Wright, who curates the National Marine Aquarium in nearby Plymouth admitted that what happened was “quite odd.” And that he thinks “something (could be) wrong with them. As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behavior 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.”

James Wright suggests that the storms have been so destructive to the octopuses’ habitat, that they were forced to find a new home. But in the mass confusion, some got stuck on the beach by accident.

“It could simply be injuries sustained by the rough weather itself or there could be a sensitivity to a change in atmospheric pressure.”

Marine biologist David Scheel with the Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage wrote an email to Live Science about the situation.

“It’s possible they are unusually abundant this year,” Scheel wrote. “Or perhaps sea conditions were atypical — a big storm or an unusually low tide? Really nice crabs just above the low tide line? Too warm or cold? Recent pollution event or enrichment? Recent food die-off? A marathon walk for a compelling cause?”

In the video below from Stones, you can see one octopus walking on the sand as it flees the water.

What do you think is happening with these creatures?