Surviving octopus has a starring role at sanctuary

A lesser octopus has survived to become a Sea Life star: Pictures submitted

A lesser octopus has survived to become a Sea Life star: Pictures submitted - Credit: Archant

An octopus found stranded on Heacham beach before Christmas has recovered to take up a starring role at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary.

It is one of two lesser octopuses mysteriously left high and dry on neighbouring beaches on the same day in the middle of December. The other died.

Sea Life curator Kieran Copeland said: 'It was very rare to come across a single stranded octopus, let alone two.

'No-one knows what caused these intelligent and enigmatic eight- legged creatures to end up out of the water.

'Initially both seemed to recover well from their ordeal, but one passed away after the first couple of weeks.

'They have very short life-spans, a maximum of three years, and there's no way of knowing how old they are, or what prompted them to crawl out of the sea, if that is what happened.'

More commonly found around Scotland and off the west coast of the UK, the creatures like rocky seabeds and marine experts are puzzled why they made their way to the sandy Wash. They may have drifted south in pursuit of migrating crabs, their favourite prey.

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Mr Copeland added: 'Since we don't know what led to them getting into trouble, we felt the surviving octopus would be best staying with us where it will be well fed and well cared for.'

The new resident has been given a luxurious display tank complete with hidey-holes and convenient nooks and crannies where it can avoid the close scrutiny of too many human admirers if it wishes.

'With their doughnut-shaped brains, blue blood and colour changing abilities, not to mention eight legs and a parrot-like beak, octopuses are always fascinating to see and to learn about,' said Mr Copeland.

One of the creatures was discovered on the beach by caravan owner Sue Bailey, from Northamptonshire, who said in December: 'I've found all sorts down there in the past, but this was the first ever octopus.

'I had come across them in rock pools on holiday in Greece before, so I wasn't in the least frightened by it.'

What unusual creatures have you found on a Norfolk beach? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk