Bold, Intelligent, Freedom-Loving Octopus "Inky" Escapes to the Sea
(p. A8) It was an audacious nighttime escape.
After busting through an enclosure, the nimble contortionist appears to have quietly crossed the floor, slithered through a narrow drain hole about six inches in diameter and jumped into the sea. Then he disappeared.
This was no Houdini, but rather a common New Zealand octopus called Inky, about the size of a soccer ball.
The breakout at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, which has captured the imagination of New Zealanders and made headlines around the world, apparently began when Inky slipped through a small gap at the top of his tank.
Octopus tracks suggest he then scampered eight feet across the floor and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that dropped him into Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of North Island, according to reports in New Zealand's news media.
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Alix Harvey, an aquarist at the Marine Biological Association in England, noted that octopuses, members of a class of marine animals including squid and cuttlefish called Cephalopoda, have shown themselves to be adept at escaping through spaces as small as a coin, constrained only by their beaks, the only inflexible part of their bodies.
Ms. Harvey said that octopuses had also been documented opening jars and sneaking through tiny holes on boats, and that they could deflect predators by spraying an ink that lingers in the water and acts as a decoy. Some have been seen hauling coconut shells to build underwater shelters.
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She continued, "They have a complex brain, have excellent eyesight, and research suggests they have an ability to learn and form mental maps."
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Octopuses' intelligence, she said, was partly an evolutionary response to their habitation in complex environments such as coral reefs, in which the animals need to hide from predators and sneak up on their prey.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 13, 2016, and has the title "Inky the Octopus Escapes From a New Zealand Aquarium.")