Octopuses left high and dry in Heacham in west Norfolk

Octupuses in Heacham: Pictures submitted

Octupuses in Heacham: Pictures submitted - Credit: Archant

Astonished marine experts at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary raced to the rescue of two beached octopuses yesterday.

The two lesser octopuses, a species more often found around the Scottish coast and west coast of England, were found high and dry, several metres from the tide edge on adjacent beaches in Heacham, near Hunstanton, and by different people!

One was discovered by visiting caravan owner 62-year-old Sue Bailey, of College Street, Irthlingborough, Northampton, when she nipped to the beach after closing up her caravan for the winter.

She said: 'I've found all sorts down there in the past and even rang the sanctuary six months ago about a seal pup I came across, but this was the first ever octopus.

'I had come across them in rock pools on holiday in Greece before and even had one wrap itself round my leg, so I wasn't in the least frightened by it.'

As Sea Life displays supervisor Kieran Copeland dashed to the scene, his colleagues received a second phone call about another octopus on the next beach along.

Both were still alive and were safely transported back to the sanctuary where they are now under close observation in behind-the-scenes quarantine tanks.

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Mr Copeland said: 'It's very rare to come across a single stranded octopus, let alone two.

'We can only speculate on why they were out of the water on the beach. It really is a mystery.'

Lesser octopuses eat small crabs and shellfish and will sometimes follow migrating crabs south.

Like all octopuses they have three hearts, blue blood and a highly evolved brain which is shaped like a doughnut and positioned around the lower head, just above the beak-like mouth.

Mr Copeland added: 'They have a short life-span of around three years. It may be that these are elderly octopuses which have crawled ashore to die, but we hope not.

'They are amazing creatures and we'd love to get them fit and healthy and on public display so our visitors can admire them and learn about them.'

Although their genders are as yet unknown, bosses at the sanctuary hope to be able to name them Sue and Sunny, after the lady who found the first one, and her husband.