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Octopus caught on camera changing its colour at North Wales beach

A curled octopus which was filmed changing colour at a beach in Anglesey, North Wales (Ciara Taylor/Marine Conservation Society)
A curled octopus which was filmed changing colour at a beach in Anglesey, North Wales (Ciara Taylor/Marine Conservation Society)

An octopus at a beach in North Wales has been caught on camera changing its colour.

The footage, which shows a curled octopus changing from white to bright orange, was shot by Ciara Taylor of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

She was practising identifying sea creatures at the Menai Bridge beach in Anglesey on April 6 when beachgoers spotted tentacles appearing from under a rock.

Ms Taylor, who is a project assistant at MCS, said: “I met two other young people who were rockpooling and one of them saw some tentacles sticking out from under a rock – they shouted over to me, so I ran over, and then we waited.

“It eventually came out and started crawling back towards the sea.

“We couldn’t believe it.

“It was an amazing reminder of the beautiful wildlife we have in North Wales and why we need to protect it.”

Curled octopus, also known as lesser octopus, can be found in the UK as well as European beaches.

They live in shallow waters and feed on other marine creatures such as fish, crabs, shrimp, clams and mussels.

On occasion, these creatures will use their camouflage abilities to ambush prey.

The octopus changed colour from white to bright orange
The octopus changed colour from white to bright orange (Ciara Taylor/Marine Conservation Society/PA)

The curled octopus is very elusive and can spend most of the day hiding between rocks with its tentacles curled up.

However, the species is thought to be increasing in numbers and experts believe this may due to a decline in their predators, such as cod, and rising sea temperatures related to climate change, which could be helping the species.

The MCS’s Seasearch programme, which asks divers and beachgoers to record marine life, reported increased sightings in 2022, although curled octopuses have rarely been filmed changing colour in the wild.

These creatures resemble also another octopus species known as the common octopus, which are bigger and more difficult to spot.

Angus Jackson, Seasearch data officer at the MCS, said: “Curled octopus are found here all the time, and we get a handful of records every year.

“In contrast, we very seldom receive records for Mediterranean or common octopus.

“The summer and autumn of 2022 were fascinating exceptions, where there appeared to be a boom in the population of common octopus, and we received many records.

“Such booms have been noted in the past, but not for several decades.”

The charity is asking for more people to join their Seasearch programme to identify marine creatures that appear on the shores, which can then help scientists learn more about the changing seas.