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.”
Intense Hopes and fears as Woodland homes to go before planners
FINDING a home and finding a job is the most important challenge for young local people.
So the excitement is intense at the prospect of six live work units on the edge of Rosebush village, edged by the 100 acre forest. The zero carbon homes would be fuelled by wood and solar PV and be built of local timber.
The developers are Coed Preseli and Down to Earth, with the support of Cooperative Wales, PCC housing department and the Future ‘Generations office of Welsh government. They would be rented to local people in perpetuity, at low rents, people who want to run a business from home, relating to the forest resource or supporting the local area.
Thirteen local young families are queuing up for the six homes, one writes: “It would be mine and my partner’s dream to have something like this project. He is a time served carpenter, spoon carver, furniture maker. He has also done some chainsaw carving. Oh and is a qualified engineer. I am a newly qualified furniture maker, and we are slowly building up a collection of tools to start a workshop of our own.”
Another said: “I used to work in forestry driving a forwarder and harvester mainly doing thinnings, but now I have become an arborist (tree surgeon) and I know Huw the forest manager has been trying to introduce pine Martins and Ospreys down here. Which a friend has been climbing the trees to put in man made nests for them and I’d love to be part of helping them”
Another works with big machinery in forests, leaving his family for long days in an upstairs flat with a small child and no access to a garden. It is hard on them. For this family too, the development would be the answer to their prayers.
But The National Park Authority is recommending refusal on March 10. They give a number of reasons for rejection. The architect representing the owners have written to explain how each reason is erroneous or has been addressed.
The young families are puzzled. Under One Planet Development people can come in from away and build a home in the open countryside, but local people offered the chance of the workshop they desperately need, with a home to rent at social housing rates, on the edge of an existing village, are all turned down. There is heartbreak and bewilderment among them.
“We are offering new businesses. We are working and paying taxes. This is our community where our families are. Don’t they want us here?” As a well known north Pembrokeshire Councillor exclaimed “What is wrong with the Park?”
Aberystwyth walker’s 100 miles challenge in time for 64th birthday
HYWEL DDA Health Charities has thanked epic fundraiser Annette Smith from Talybont, Aberystwyth who has raised £710 so far walking over 100 miles in 21 days, around her local area to raise money for Bronglais Chemotherapy Day Unit.
Annette normally walks at the most 60 miles a month, so the 63 year old had really pushed her limits. She started on 10 th February and finished mile 100 on Tuesday 2 nd March, ten days before her 64th birthday on 12 th March, when she’ll celebrate her achievement with some well-deserved cake!
Annette has walked every day, trying to get to walk done in the morning to give her a good start to the day.
She says “I want to give something back to our local services in the NHS. I feel incredibly lucky that my family and I haven’t been too affected by Coronavirus and I want to do my bit to help. I feel like I need to do something to say thank you.
“I also want to set myself a challenge and push myself out of my comfort zone. Something for me to feel proud of.
“I have friends who have used or are using the chemo unit and I am worried pressures on services will increase once life starts to go back to normal.”
Annette said the challenge was a test of her physical and mental grit, but added that it was lovely to explore her local area and enjoy the surroundings.
She added “I feel ecstatic that my personal challenge has raised such a goodly sum to contribute to the great work of the Chemotherapy Day Unit at Bronglais Hospital. Their work will continue beyond this current crisis. Thanks to all my supporters and it would be great to think that my efforts could raise even more!”
Hywel Dda Health Charities is the official NHS charity for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and
Pembrokeshire. Fundraising Manager Tara Nickerson said, “We are always grateful when people take the time to support our work, delivering services and activities above and beyond what the NHS provides. It’s truly inspiring when people who have received NHS care decide to give back as Annette has. The money she raises will directly benefit NHS patients and staff.”
There’s still time to support Annette’s amazing efforts and donate at
Cardigan veteran completes three months of icy dips to raise over £4,000 for homelessness charity Crisis
ICE, snow and rain: Bryan Larkin from Cardigan has swum through it all over the last three months, and all to raise over £4,000 to help people without a home.
A former mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Bryan took daily dips in December, January and February as part of homelessness charity Crisis’s Icebreaker challenge.
Shunning a wet-suit and smashing his £1,000 target, the 29 year-old has swum in the sea, rivers and waterfalls, as well as plunged into icy water buts and showered himself with cold hosepipes.
“The most challenging moments have to have been when the days were below 0°C with added wind chill and it was snowing or hailing. It meant you were cold before getting in and then even more so getting out and trying to get changed to try to warm up, while your body temperature continues to drop,” said Bryan.
Knowing that my daily efforts have inspired others to donate and take part, to raise crucial funds for homelessness and seeing where that money goes, has really kept me focused and motivated.”
Bryan said hot homemade soups have kept him going through the bad weather, along with friends and family. They also helped him with his video finale, ‘showering’ him with icy hoses, buckets, glasses and balloons of water from around the country.
After leaving the army, Bryan experienced mental health issues and a school friend who has been homeless recommended the Wim Hof Method to him. Named after the Dutch extreme athlete, it combines exposing oneself to cold temperatures with breathing techniques to improve overall wellbeing. Through researching cold water swimming, Bryan then came full circle when he discovered the Crisis Icebreaker.
He relished the opportunity to combine what he had learned with an issue he cares passionately about.
“Seeing my friend getting back on his feet is a big driver for me, even though he’s still struggling big time. It just baffles my mind that people have to live outside,” said Bryan.
Crisis provides year-round support to people without a home, whether they are sleeping rough, in cars, sheds, sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation. Through its eleven Skylight Centres across Great Britain, it provides employment, well-being and housing support to help people end their homelessness for good.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Bryan for his truly epic efforts over the last three months. The money he has raised throughout the bitterly cold winter will make a real difference to Crisis’s year-long work to end homelessness. His passion will show people without a home that they are not forgotten.”
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