Ever seen an octopus blushing? Sea creature turns a brilliant red as it emerges from under a rock on a Welsh beach in rare footage


Beachgoers have captured amazing footage of an octopus ‘blushing’ as it emerges from its hiding place on a Welsh beach.

The curled octopus transforms from a ghostly white to deep orangey-red as it crawls out from under a rock at Menai Bridge beach, Anglesey.

Experts think the animal may have changed colour when it detected nearby people and perceived them as a potential danger.

After crawling up the rocks with its long tentacles, the octopus made it safely back into the sea.

Octopuses have thousands of cells under their skin that each contain sacs filled with different-coloured pigments.

By stretching or squeezing these sacs, they can rapidly change the brightness of each of these colours.

The new footage was captured by Ciara Taylor, an assistant at the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), after being alerted to a set of tentacles by other beachgoers.

‘I met two other young people who were rockpooling and one of them saw some tentacles sticking out from under a rock,’ Ms Taylor said.

‘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.’

The curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa) is not a rare species in British waters; in fact, it’s found right around the UK coastline and on beaches around Europe too.

However, it’s ‘very unusual’ to see out of the water and even rarer to catch its colour-changing act on film.

The sea animal crawled out from under a rock at Menai Bridge beach, Anglesey, north Wales
The sea animal crawled out from under a rock at Menai Bridge beach, Anglesey, north Wales
The beautiful creature turns a deep shade of orangey-red as it scampers out from under its rock and crawls amongst the seaweed and shells
The beautiful creature turns a deep shade of orangey-red as it scampers out from under its rock and crawls amongst the seaweed and shells

They are seldom recorded in large numbers, but this is often because they have solitary behaviours, are pretty inactive during the daytime, spend lots of time hidden away and are generally very well camouflaged.

Angus Jackson, data officer at MCS, said it’s ‘very hard to know why octopus change colour’, but this one may have been trying to scare off humans.

‘They have so many complex behaviours and use colour-change as part of their very varied forms of communication and for camouflage,’ she told MailOnline.

‘It might have been that it was to try and scare off the rockpoolers who it perceived as a predator, to camouflage against the rocks, a stress response due to being out of water, or another type of cephalopod communication that we can’t even imagine.’

The footage was captured by Ciara Taylor, an assistant at the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), after being alerted to a telltale set of tentacles
The footage was captured by Ciara Taylor, an assistant at the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), after being alerted to a telltale set of tentacles

The curled octopus 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.

The MCS’s Seasearch programme, which asks divers and beachgoers to record marine life, reported increased sightings in 2022.

‘Octopus are incredibly intelligent and there is still so much to learn about them,’ said Jackson.

‘By reporting sightings to us, or by joining our Seasearch programme, you can help us to build a picture of marine life around the UK so we can help protect them.’

This article by Jonathon Chadwick was first published by The Daily Mail on 30 May 2024. Lead Image: The curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa) starts out a ghostly shade of white before transitioning to a deep orangey-red.

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