A GROUP of octopuses beached themselves at New Quay over the weekend, with a large number subsequently dying in spite of the best efforts of locals to save them.
One person alone saw over 20 curled octopuses, which cannot survive out of water for more than a few minutes, walking up the beach.
The proprietor of SeaMor Dolphin Watching Trips Brett Stones first noticed the creatures last Friday night (Oct 27) after returning to harbour.
“We moored the boat up, and as we were coming back across the beach we saw the first one,” he told The Herald.
“We didn’t think we would see any more, so we made a bit of a fuss over it. Instinct kicked in, it was a vulnerable animal out of its environment.
“We checked it over, and there weren’t any obvious injuries or illness, so we dropped it back in the water off the end of the pier.
However, walking along the beach, Brett and his crew came across between 20 and 25 more octopuses. “We put them back into deeper water, and hopefully that helped. “Was it the right thing to do? I’m not sure, but it was instinctive,” he added.
Video footage taken by Brett has gone viral, with news outlets including the Washington Post phoning him for information.
“It’s been strange – I’ve had papers from all over Britain and America phoning me. I’ve even missed a few people phoning to make charter bookings because I’ve been on the phone to LadBible or the Washington Post,” he remarked.
“It’s been a good day for dolphin-watching too!”
The population of curled octopuses has increased in Welsh waters, largely as a result of declining cod stocks. The creatures, which live for up to three years, are happy in water varying from 100m to the shallows, and they generally feed on molluscs and crustaceans, even raiding crab and lobster pots for the bait and catch. Their main predators include dolphins.
While there have been occasional sightings of the species on beaches in the east of England, it is thought that the number coming ashore in Newquay is unprecedented. A number of theories have been put forward, from microplastics, acidity in the sea, and military sonar, but Brett believes the answer could be a lot simpler.
“I think it’s something to do with the spawning season,” he explained, “a lot of them die at this time of year.
“Alternatively, the coast received a battering from Storm Ophelia and Brian. And they could have become disorientated and walked towards the bright lights of New Quay when the water cleared.”
This theory was supported by James Wright, curator at the National Maritime Museum in Plymouth.Speaking to the national media, he said: “There’s been a few online videos showing them coming out under the cover of darkness to hunt but to have them crawl out in the number that was seen on that particular night is quite unusual.
“They’re crawling across the beach and not looking for prey in rock pools - so that’s out of character and doesn’t fit with their breeding or foraging behaviour.
“But them even being found in the intertidal is not common and suggests there is something wrong with them I am afraid.
“As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behaviour 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.”
A level results still high in Ceredigion
THE ‘A’ level examination results published today by the WJEC (15 August) show that high standards are being achieved in Ceredigion schools once again. 97.9% of entries for WJEC examinations were graded A* to E, with 27.9% of the entries achieving the top ’A’ grades.
Ceredigion pupils continue to outperform the Welsh average. More pupils in Ceredigion achieve the top ’A’ grades and A* to E grades. The below table shows a comparison with average Welsh figures. These don’t include Welsh Baccalaureate results and those from examination bodies other than WJEC.
Wales 2019 Ceredigion 2019
Grade A* – A 27.92% 27.0%
Grade A* – B 56.0% n/a
Grade A* – C 77.5% n/a
Grade A* – E 97.9% 97.6%
Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations once again to Ceredigion’s sixth form students for their successes in this year’s A Level and AS examinations.
These results are the culmination of a long journey through school life which has seen them nurture and develop the academic and interpersonal skills that will enable them to move confidently into higher education, training or employment in fields of their choice. I wish them good luck for the future and would like to sincerely thank all who have contributed to their school journey in any way.”
MP Ben Lake calls for reform of police funding
HAVING recently shadowed Dyfed Powys Police officers in Aberystwyth, the Ceredigion MP has again urged the UK Government to review the police funding formula for rural areas.
Mr Lake visited Aberystwyth police station as part of the #GiveADayToPolicing campaign, a scheme for Members of Parliament to better understand the challenges currently facing police forces across the UK.
During his visit Mr Lake had the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of local policing – from spending time with the neighbourhood policing team, meeting officers from different departments, and discussing policing challenges with front-line police officers.
Mr Lake has challenged the UK Government on several occasions to reform the formula for police funding – highlighting the need for the funding formula to take into consideration the seasonal pressures on forces, particularly the significant increase to the population of coastal areas during the summer months.
Mr Lake said: “I am very grateful to the officers of Aberystwyth police station for their welcome, and for taking the time to speak with me. I now have a better understanding of the challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration of their work and commitment to public safety.
“As I have previously stated, we cannot expect a one size fits all approach to work effectively across the whole of the UK, and as such, it is imperative that the criteria used to allocate the Home Office police grant are revised so that they reflect the increased demands and unique challenges facing rural forces in areas such as Ceredigion, especially during summer months.”
Mr Lake added: “It is widely acknowledged that Welsh police forces have suffered under the present funding formula, and so it is high time that the UK Government either amends the formula accordingly, or devolves the responsibility for policing to the Welsh Government so that they may do so themselves.”
New waste trial launched in Aberystwyth
A NEW trial has been launched in Aberystwyth as part of the Caru Aber campaign, to help keep the town centre clean on waste collection days.
Heavy duty sacks will be placed on Aberystwyth streets on Monday afternoons before the black bag collection on Tuesdays in the following streets; Portland Street, Portland Road, Queen Street, Corporation Street, Eastgate Street, New Street and Cambrian Place.
Black bags should be put in the sacks by 8am on Tuesday mornings for collection. The intention is that the sacks contain the waste until it is collected. The sacks will be retrieved after the waste has been collected to avoid clutter and obstruction on the streets.
Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “We see this trial as a practical and relatively cost effective way of responding to long standing issues relating to domestic waste presentation in Aberystwyth town centre. The sacks will also provide a visible reminder to residents in the town centre on what days to present their black bags.
“The trial forms part of the Caru Aber campaign, and the wider Caru Ceredigion campaign, where the council looks to work with local communities to address issues which are of concern or are important to them.
“This innovative approach is another example of positive proactive action the council is taking. We hope that the residents of the town centre will play their part by making good use of the sacks as this will be the critical factor in measuring the success of the scheme.”
Clean recycling and food waste should continue to be presented on a weekly basis in the containers that the council already provides through clear bags and food caddies.
Ensuring that the right waste is presented in the right way and on the right day will help to make sure that the town’s streets are kept clean and that the waste is contained, managed and treated in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way as possible.
The sacks were first used in readiness for waste collections on Tuesday 6 August 2019. The initial feedback is positive as they have worked to contain the waste on the streets, which were noticeably cleaner.
This latest initiative is developing on feedback and experience from two other trials undertaken. The success of the trial will be monitored on an ongoing basis and reviewed to reflect the experience which will include looking at ways of engaging all residents.
For more information about the new scheme, please contact the Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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