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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Fishy tale of the longest octopus
Curled octopus
The octopus is one of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean
A Cornish fisherman has caught what is thought to be the largest octopus of its kind found in the sea off Britain.

The curled octopus was caught accidentally by 33-year-old John Tonkin, of Cadgwith, west Cornwall, in a crab pot off the Lizard on Tuesday.

Mr Tonkin kept the octopus in a bucket of water and took it to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay.

Senior Aquarist Matt Slater confirmed the 80cm octopus is the largest recorded size caught in UK waters.

"Happy" octopus

Mr Tonkin said he was completely unaware the octopus was a record-breaker.

He said: "I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary becauseI catch maybe two or three octopus a year.

"My main concern was to get it to the aquarium.

"I was surprised by Matt Slater's reaction when he saw the size of it.

"He also told me the octopus was happy because it was red."

Trying to accurately measure an octopus is always going to be a little tricky
Matt Slater, Senior Aquarist
Normally the creature is a reddish-brown colour, but it can change shades quickly and discharge ink if it feels threatened.

Mr Slater said the octopus was in excellent condition and is now recovering in a display tank at the aquarium.

He said: "Trying to accurately measure an octopus is always going to be a little tricky, but we persevered and I'm confident this specimen measures at least 80cm.

"We've checked all our reference books and the previous largest size anywhere is 60cm, so it looks like this is a new record."

The curled octopus is one of two species native to UK waters and gets its name from the slender, tapering arms which curl at the end.

The octopus is among the most intelligent inhabitants of the oceans, with a highly developed nervous system and the largest and most advanced brain of any invertebrate.

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