An enterprising octopus spotted his chance to escape from a New Zealand aquarium — and took it.
Squeezing out from a gap at the top of his tank, the “inquisitive” octopus, Inky, slithered across the floor of the aquarium and down a seawater runoff pipe to Hawke’s Bay, and freedom.
“Octopus are very intelligent, very inquisitive and like to push the boundaries,” said Rob Yarrell, the manager of the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
“This particular one was very friendly and intelligent and obviously found a weak spot in the top of his tank.”
Inky, a common New Zealand octopus who had been caught by a local crayfisherman off the coast of Napier and donated to the aquarium, appears to be a credit to his species.
“While he was with us, he would have learned a lot,” Yarrell said. “He was the type that was inquisitive, and a bit wiser than we thought.”
He said that no great search would be put on for Inky, who is most likely roaming the sea floor, back in his natural habitat.
“We’ll chalk this up to experience,” Yarrell said.
Octopus are able to get out of very small spaces, and only restricted by size of beak, the only rigid part of their bodies.
It means that they are able to alter their body shape and squeeze through tight spots.
“He managed to get out and two-and-a-bit meters (around 8 ft) away was a drain which he managed to escape through.”
He added that Inky could probably hear water in the pipe, which gave him his escape plan.
The absconder actually took his chance a “couple of months ago,” Yarrell said, but news of the great escape only emerged recently.
The intelligence of cephalopods, including octopuses, is widely acknowledged by researchers, and their problem-solving and escapologist feats are well-documented. Footage of octopuses escaping from tightly-screwed jars, for example, gives a demonstration of their abilities.
Yarrell said despite the species’ intelligence, the aquarium had no plans to stop keeping them in captivity.