The death of octupuses, such as these which washed ashore
at Vauxhall, in Dunedin, on Saturday, is common at this
time of year. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Otago Harbour octopuses are losing their grip as winter
sets in, leaving jellied carcasses clumped along the rocky
shores of Dunedin.
The mass stranding is not unusual, as octupuses are "terminal
spawners" and move to shallow waters when near death, Dr John
They live no more than two years, reproduce once and then
"Their dying off is quite normal, particularly in late autumn
and early winter.
"They seem to be susceptible to frosts, but whether that is
coincidental to them dying this time of year, I don't know,"
Dr Jillett, formerly of the University of Otago marine
science department, said.
He said octopuses moved into shallow water near the end of
their lives and often died on the shore.
Dr Jillett noticed four or five octopus carcasses at
Macandrew Bay about a week ago.
Octopuses were increasingly being caught for food at the late
stage of their lives, especially around Andersons Bay Inlet.
"That's why you don't see as many on the shore as you used
to," he said.
Dr Jillett said the octopuses did not pose any danger to
people or other animals.