Wannabe octopus fugitive

01 March 2009


It wasn't quite the Great Escape, but aquarium keepers at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in the United States were left knee deep in water this week when a cheeky octopus tried to make a break for freedom.

Octopus opening a container with a screw cap.The female two-spotted octopus, about 30cm long, swam to the top of her tank and using her dextrous tentacles, unscrewed the water valve on her tank, releasing at least 200 gallons of seawater that gushed out into the aquarium causing havoc. The wily escapologist survived the ordeal but didn't quite manage break out of her tank.

Octopuses are well known for their curiosity, nimble tentacles and immense strength. Biologists are still not sure just how intelligent octopuses are - and we don't know for sure whether this octopus was deliberately fiddling with the tank tap knowing what would happen - but they certainly seem to some of the brainiest invertebrates there are. They can learn behaviours like opening jars full of food and leap into neighbouring aquarium tanks in the search for food.

Perhaps the most brilliant animal in the world (in Helen's opinion anyway) is the Mimic Octopus that lives in Indonesia and spends its life doing amazing impersonations of lots of other animals like sea snakes, flat fish and lion fish.

Octopuses may even have a sense of humour. There's a story of an octopus that when it was given a slightly off shrimp to eat, stuffed it into a drain while keeping eye contact with the aquarium keeper, as if to say "I'm not eating that!"

Press Release from Santa Monica Pier Aquarium:


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