Six-armed hexapus on display

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Staff at Blackpool Sealife Centre have found what they claim is a world first- a six legged Octopus.

The octopus - a Lesser, Northern or Curled octopus Eledone cirrhosa - was found in a lobster pot off the coast of Anglesey a few weeks ago and was taken to Blackpool for their new ~Suckers exhibition.

It was only when he attached himself to the glass of the tank that staff noticed the lack of two limbs. Staff have christened the octopus ~Henry the Hexapus .

We've scoured the internet and talked to lots of other aquariums and no-one has ever heard of another case of a six-legged octopus," said displays supervisor Carey Duckhouse.

The most likely reason for an octopus being six-armed is an injury that has caused the loss of two arms, but in that case you would expect to see stumps or at least areas of scar tissue. Hence, I am inclined to agree with the Sea Life Centre staff that the most likely explanation is a developmental birth defect, particularly as the webbing appears normal and continuous said Douglas Herdson from the National Aquarium in Plymouth.

He continued Although this is the first report of a six-legged ( or six-armed) octopus it is quite possible that this occurs in a tiny proportion of the population, but goes unnoticed as most that are caught go straight off to restaurants here or around the Mediterranean.

The hexapus is proving to be one of the most popular exhibits at the Sealife centre but animal rights campaigners from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) claim that Henry s new home is cruel and that the centre are turning him into a ~sideshow freak .

In an open letter to the Sealife Centre, Anita Singh urged aquarium managers to spare Henry a life of captivity and to return him to the sea.

"Octopuses are intelligent animals who feel pain, have proven problem-solving abilities and value their lives as much as we do ours.

"Keeping Henry in an aquarium as part of an exhibit is alien to the life he knew in the sea before being caught. It is exceedingly cruel to turn this wild animal into a side-show freak."

Marine experts have pointed out that it would now be impossible to return him to the wild as he had probably adopted the lobster pot where he was found as his den.

To return him to anywhere other than this exact place would be cruel and would likely lead to his death through shock, predation or even fishing. Naturally, Lesser octopus have a life span of just two years.