It’s a well known fact that not only are octopuses highly intelligent creatures, they are also amazing escape artists — a skill that Inky the octopus from New Zealand’s National Aquarium felt the need to prove recently, when he disappeared from his tank.
In a scene right out of a marine-based reboot of Shawshank Redemption, after discovering that someone had left the lid of his tank slightly ajar, Inky the octopus did what any cold-blooded invertebrate would do and made a break for freedom. Staff at the aquarium believe that sometime in the middle of the night, Inky noticed the lid of his tank open, slithered up the side of the aquarium that housed him, and squeezed his rugby ball-sized body into the tiny opening, reports Discovery News.
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Inky then would have had to slide down the side of the enclosure and across the floor — a journey of about three or four meters — where staff think he found the opening of a 50 meter drainpipe that ends in Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Inky the octopus, known for his curious nature, likely made his way into the drainpipe and escaped into the waters of the Pacific. Rob Yarrell, national manager of the National Aquarium of New Zealand, says he doesn’t think Inky escaped because he was unhappy, but just because he was an incredibly inquisitive octopus.
“But Inky really tested the waters here. I don’t think he was unhappy with us, or lonely, as octopus are solitary creatures. But he is such a curious boy. He would want to know what’s happening on the outside. That’s just his personality.”
When staff arrived at the aquarium the morning after Inky’s escape, they noticed his tank empty, and a wet trail on the floor leading to the 150 mm-wide drainpipe.
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Despite Inky’s size, octopuses are notorious for being able to get into the tiniest of spaces — an ability that stems from the fact that they have no bones. As long as their beak can fit through an opening, the rest of their body can as well, Yarrell says.
“Octopus are really intelligent animals, very inquisitive, and they also tend to explore whenever they get the chance. Giving him just a little gap was enough for him to get out, and we noticed the wet trail across to one of our drains. They are great escape artists, as long as its mouth can fit. Their bodies are squishy, but they have a beak, like a parrot.”
Inky the octopus was brought to the aquarium a couple of years ago by a local fisherman, who found the cephalopod trapped in a crayfish pot. According to The Guardian, Inky wasn’t in the best of shape when he was brought to them. He was scarred, had shortened limbs, and was very “rough looking,” said Yarrell, “[h]e had been living on the reef and fighting with fish so he wasn’t in the best shape.”
Inky wasn’t the only octopus in residence at the national aquarium — a smaller octopus by the name of Blotchy is also housed there — but he was certainly the favorite among both staff and guests, according to Yarrell.
“He was very friendly, very inquisitive, and a popular attraction here. We have another octopus, Blotchy, but he is smaller than Inky, and Inky had the personality.”
Though staff are sad at Inky’s departure from their aquarium, they haven’t set up a search party to find him, and they have no plans to step up security in light of his successful escape attempt. Staff also haven’t made any plans to replace Inky the octopus, though they say if some fisherman were to bring them another octopus, they might be able to find space for it at the aquarium.
[Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]