The mysterious inner life of the octopus

By | July 25, 2022

Martha Henriques writes:

It was a big night for Inky the octopus. The day’s visitors had been and gone, and now his room in the aquarium was deserted. In a rare oversight, the lid of his tank had been left ajar. The common New Zealand octopus had been without female company for some time, sharing a tank with only a fellow male, Blotchy. The loose lid provided Inky with an opportunity. With eight strong suckered limbs and, quite possibly, intimate concerns on his mind, Inky hauled himself out of the water, made his way under the loose lid, and off across the aquarium floor.

He made it about 13ft (4m) when he found something else – not a mate, but a drain that emptied into the Pacific Ocean. With that, Inky was gone.

(No one, besides Blotchy, was there to witness this great escape. But with the help of a wet trail and a few telling sucker marks, Inky’s movements were later pieced together by the staff of the New Zealand National Aquarium in the city of Napier.)

As Inky demonstrated in his famous escapade, octopuses are enterprising animals adept at problem solving. They are acutely intelligent and able to learn novel tasks and orient themselves within their environment. There is also growing consensus that octopuses are most likely sentient. [Continue reading…]

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