A nature lover made an unusual find as he came across an octopus washed up on Weymouth Beach during his morning walk.

Bob Ford, who runs guided walks around Weymouth and Portland, discovered the sea creature during a walk on the beach on Wednesday following severe weather which battered the Dorset coast.

Sadly, the octopus didn't survive being washed up onto the sand, but Mr Ford thinks he found it just a short time after it had.

He said: "I was just out walking and there it was on the sands near the Pavilion. I thought it a squid at first but when I put it in the sea to wash the sand off it I could see what it was.

"I thought perhaps it might recover and swim off but after a few minutes in the sea it was obvious that it was dead, although clearly very fresh."

It is not clear how the octopus came to be washed up on the beach, but experts at Dorset Wildlife Trust say it may be the victim of Storm Eleanor which hit Dorset on Wednesday.

As reported by the Echo in October last year, Portuguese man' o' war, jellyfish-type creatures, were washed up on beaches across Dorset. They were thought to have been blown to shore by Storm Ophelia.

Marine Conservation Officer for Dorset Wildlife Trust Emma Rance said of the octopus: "It looks like a curled octopus, Eledone cirrhosa. They are quite small with a maximum arm spread of 50-70cm with a single row of suckers along each.

"They get their name from their curled arm tips, seen when they are resting.

"The curled octopus is recorded along all the rocky shores of our British coastline but DWT rarely receive sightings here in Dorset. I am only aware of a small number in the west of the county from divers or fishermen."

Miss Rance said rare sightings of the octopus are down to the fact they are masters of camouflage, changing colour to suit their moods or surroundings, and hiding themselves in the tiniest of crevices.

She added: "The only hard structure within them is their beak, that they use to crush and devour crabs and other crustaceans. 

"As long as they can squeeze this through a hole, they can hide. I have found this remarkable to watch in a previous job I had where they demonstrated their intelligence through unscrewing jars and using objects for shelter. Mind-blowing creatures and a real favourite of mine."

Miss Rance suspects the stranding was due to Storm Eleanor.

She said: "We are often more likely to find unusual species stranded on our shores after wild weather. That said, there have been instances where these animals actively “walk” out of the water.

"Keep your eyes peeled next time you are on the beach. We welcome all sightings of marine life – please tweet us @dorsetwt or www.facebook.com/dorsetwildlife"