Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

The abundance of Octopus in the English Channel

W. J. Rees and J. R. Lumby


During 1950, the Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris Lamarck) was to be found along the south coast of England in greater numbers than at any time since Garstang (1900) reported on the ‘plague’ on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall in 1899–1900.

In earlier papers (Rees, 1950, 1952) the distribution of the octopus in our northern waters was reviewed, and it was demonstrated that this species is an immigrant which breeds on our south coast only rarely. It reaches these coasts by being brought there as a planktonic larva by the water circulation in the English Channel and by migrations of the adult. The most important factor in controlling the movements of the adult, however, might be expected to be the water temperature in the English Channel—where the species is at the northern limit of its breeding range and might therefore be extremely sensitive to slight changes in temperature.