Giant British Octopus

Large Cephalopod of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Physical description: Octopus with arms 6 feet or more in length.

Distribution: Western coast of Scotland and Cornwall.

Significant sighting: On January 12, 1952, Constable John Morrison came across a cephalopod lying half out of the water near Broadford, Isle of Skye, Scotland. He gave it a hefty kick, but it gripped him by the left ankle with a 6-foot tentacle. Morrison slipped out of his boot and eventually killed the animal with rocks and garden shears. It was later identified as a Red flying squid (Ommastrephes bartrami), apparently an occasional visitor to Britain.

P^ossible explanation: The Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) has an average radial size of 1-2 feet, but outsize specimens with a radial spread of just over 6 feet have been reported in British waters.

Sources: Gerald L. Wood, The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats (London: Guinness Superlatives, 1982), p. 194; Ulrich Magin, "Is There a British Monster Octopus?" INFO Journal, no. 51 (February 1987): 5-7.

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