Octopus Escapes From Aquarium Down A Drain Leading To The Ocean

Aquarium workers figured out his escape route from his suction-cup tracks.

An octopus at an aquarium in New Zealand slipped through a gap at the top of his enclosure in a bold attempt for freedom, before making his way to a drain pipe which led to the ocean. The octopus, named Inky, used to be a resident at New Zealand’s National Aquarium until his escape last year. He managed to slip through a gap at the top of his enclosure that was left by maintenance workers at the aquarium and made his way across the floor of the facility to a six-inch wide drain. The aquarium workers only worked this out because of the suction cup prints that Inky’s tentacles left behind, mapping his escape route. He managed to squeeze his body, which is around the size of a football, through the pipe, due to the fact that octopuses are very malleable, before he made his break for the Pacific Ocean, according to reports. Aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told Radio New Zealand, “He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean. And off he went. And he didn’t even leave us a message.”

Inky had been living in the aquarium since 2014 when he was taken in after being caught in a crayfish pot. When he arrived, his body was scarred and his arms were injured. He was then named ‘Inky’, the name chosen from nominations submitted to a contest run by the Napier City Council. The aquarium’s curator of exhibits, Kerry Hewitt, said at the time that Inky was “getting used to being at the aquarium”, but added that staff would “have to keep Inky amused or he will get bored.”

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that a captive octopus has tried to escape from an aquarium. Back in 2009 at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California, a two-spotted octopus took apart a water recycling valve, before directing a tube to shoot water out of the tank for a total of 10 hours, which consequently caused a huge flood. Following this incident, Scientific American asked octopus expert Jennifer Mather about the animals’ intelligence and previous such hijinks at aquariums. She said, “They are very strong, and it is practically impossible to keep an octopus in a tank unless you are very lucky. … Octopuses simply take things apart. I recall reading about someone who had built a robot submarine to putter around in a large aquarium tank. The octopus got a hold of it and took it apart piece by piece. There’s a famous story from the Brighton Aquarium in England 100 years ago that an octopus there got out of its tank at night when no one was watching, went to the tank next door and ate one of the lumpfish and went back to his own tank and was sitting there the next morning.”

Yarrall claimed at the time that they intend to improve the way that the tank is secured, as one other octopus remains in Inky’s prior tank. He told Hawke’s Bay Today, “They are always exploring and they are great escape artists. We’ll be watching the other one.”