A keen fisherman was taken by surprise with his latest catch when he hooked an octopus.
Paul Blackett, was on a fishing trip with friends on Sunday when he caught the creature off the Sunderland coast, surprising everyone on board the boat named the Great Escape.
The 54-year-old who had travelled from Doncaster to Hartlepool- where the boat is berthed - for a day of fishing, and said he had only expected to catch some cod and ling, but got something he hadn’t bargained for with the octopus.
“I was over the moon to have caught it,” he said.
“I have been fishing on and off for years and had travelled up from Doncaster where I am from to Hartlepool for a day of fishing off the Sunderland coastline when I caught the octopus.
“We had caught some cod and ling that day and I thought I would just have caught those fish again, so when I got the octopus I couldn’t believe it!
“It was the first one I have ever seen, so it was a bit of a shock.
“It was a great day.”
After posing for a photo with his prized catch, Mr Blackett returned it to the sea for conservation reasons.
The boat’s skipper Lee Bullivant, 33, from Bradford, said it was an extremely rare catch.
“There were 10 of us on the boat and everyone was stunned,” he said.
“We have caught lobster and things like that before, but we have never had an octopus.
“Paul came on the trip with us and he was over the moon to have caught it, especially when he found out that we have never come across an octopus on such trips before.”
Marine experts at Newcastle University said although the octopus may come as a surprise, it wasn’t unheard of for such a creature to be found off the North East coastline.
Dr Ben Wigham, lecturer in marine biology at Newcastle University said: “This is the Curled Octopus (eledone cirrhosa) sometimes called the lesser or horned octopus.
“It is characterised by having relatively short arms with one row of suckers on each arm.
“The larger common octopus (octopus vulgaris) is not commonly found into this part of the North Sea and is more common in south-west Britain and the English Channel. You cannot get them mixed up as octopus vulgaris has two rows of suckers on each arm.
“It is not unusual at all to catch them off the North East coastline, our research vessel- the RV Princess Royal, catches them quite regularly, as do the local lobster fishermen.
“As the octopus are attracted to the bait in their pots and seem to like the temporary shelter they provide.
“They tend to mainly eat small crabs and shrimps, but will catch small fish and have been known to eat starfish.”