Speed Reads

the great escape

Octopus breaks out of aquarium, slithers across the floor, and escapes to the ocean via a drain pipe

Who knew octopuses were such skilled escape artists? New Zealand's National Aquarium just found out the hard way after its octopus, Inky, managed to wiggle its way out of a small gap at the top of its tank, crawl across the floor to a six-inch-wide drain, and then squeeze its body through it to slip away into the great freedom of the open ocean.

The staff at the aquarium was able to piece together the octopus' escape route by following the telltale tracks — or rather, suction cup prints — that it left behind. Apparently, the aquarium had been previously warned that while Inky was "getting used to being the aquarium," staff needed to "keep Inky amused" so he wouldn't get bored and attempt an escape, as octopuses have been known to do.

"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," octopus expert Jennifer Mather said. "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."

With Inky now long disappeared into the ocean's depths, aquarium manager Rob Yarrall says the staff is turning its attention to its remaining octopus, Inky's tank-mate. "We'll be watching the other one," Yarrall said.