A group of north-east fishermen got more than they bargained for after reeling in a curled octopus – but left marine experts disappointed after releasing it straight back into the sea.
The strange find was caught at Peterhead Bay’s south breakwater berth on Sunday afternoon.
The spot is popular with amateur fishermen – although locals are more used to dealing with fins and scales than flailing tentacles and ink.
The group decided to release the creature – after grabbing a few quick pictures – unaware that a nearby aquarium are on the lookout for the exact same species.
Mikey Rennie, 42, from Lonmay, was visiting the spot when he heard a commotion by the bay as those nearby rushed to grab their cameras.
He said: “I happened to be in the area and I heard another guy shouting about what he had caught.
“I went to take a look and I couldn’t believe it. It’s not the kind of thing you see everyday.
“He ran off to get his phone to take a picture and I asked if I could take some too.
“When he got back he took the hook out and threw it back in the sea. As soon as it hit the water it let out a whole lot of ink and then it was gone in a flash.”
Claire Matthews, aquarium manager at Macduff Marine Aquarium, said the octopus was a lesser or curled species called Eledone cirrhosa, which is quite common in the north-east.
She added: “What a shame it was released. We need a new one here for our exhibit.”
The species lives for around two years and can grow up to 50cm in size. They are most commonly found in kelp forests and rocky reefs edging the shore.
Fishermen who come across such an octopus are advised to release it gently back into the sea – but contact the aquarium first to see if they can keep it.