Wednesday Zen Moment: How Inky the octopus made his daring escape to freedom

Written by on April 13, 2016 in Critter Crimes, Critter MIA, Rare Critters - No comments

Inky, an octopus at New Zealand’s National Aquarium in Napier, has a good disappearing act.

Staff at the aquarium noticed their two octopuses had suddenly become one earlier this year.

Inky, the male octopus, who was named after the public submitted name possibilities in a competition, had escaped.

The staff learned Inky fit his body–which is roughly the shape and size of a rugby ball–down a small pipe.

Left behind tracks and wet floor…

Instead of fingerprints, Inky’s traces were found through the octopus tracks he left behind. He began his daring bid for freedom by fitting in a small gap at the top of his glass enclosure. That led him to leave a trail through a wet floor.

Once freed from the enclosure, Inky located a drain, which was approximately 150 mm in diameter. That drain led him to the sea and that’s how he made his run (slither?) to freedom.

Rob Yarrall​ from the National Aquarium told Stuff.co.nz that  Inky was about the size of a rugby ball but octopuses could stretch themselves to extremes, allowing them to squeeze through almost any space.

“As long as it’s mouth can fit,” Yarrall said.

“Their bodies are squishy but they have a beak, like a parrot.”

The drain pipe dropped Inky into Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of North Island, according to reports in New Zealand’s news media.

The aquarium’s keepers noticed the escape when they came to work and discovered that Inky was not in his tank. A less independence-minded octopus, Blotchy, remained behind.

…but no goodbye note

Yarrall told Radio New Zealand that employees had searched the aquarium’s pipes after discovering Inky’s trail, to no avail.

The escape happened several months ago, but only recently came to light.

“He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went,” Yarrall said. “Didn’t even leave us a message.”

Inky’s escape surprised few in the world of marine biology, where octopuses are known for their strength, dexterity and intelligence.

Since his disappearance aquarium staff have missed Inky, who was popular with staff and visitors, but they were pleased to see him return to the ocean, Yarrall said.

Inky was given to the centre in 2014 after a fisherman and aquarium volunteer pulled him out of the ocean in a cray pot near Pania Reef, about half a kilometre north of the port of Napier.

He had a few battle scars, which included shortened limbs.

During his time at the aquarium he was entertained with games and toys and he was hand fed fish three times a week.

h/t: Sydney Morning Herald, Stuff.co.nz

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