Inky the Octopus Breaks Out of New Zealand Aquarium

Inky the octopus at the National Aquarium, New Zealand. He escaped from his tank and squeezed down a drain to freedom. National Aquarium, New Zealand

An octopus has made a successful dash for freedom from a New Zealand aquarium and is now thought to be roaming the Pacific Ocean.

Inky the octopus took his chance to escape through a small gap in his enclosure at the National Aquarium in the coastal city of Napier.

After managing to squeeze his way out, Inky slid across the floor and found a 15cm-wide (six inch) drain pipe that—luckily for him—led to the sea, reports.

Aquarium manager Rob Yarrall said the tank's lid was left slightly ajar following maintenance work. "He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean and off he went—didn't even leave us a message," he told Radio New Zealand.

Staff later found octopus tracks that revealed Inky's escape route. The breakout happened earlier this year but only came to light in the national press on Tuesday.

While Inky's body is about the size of a rugby ball, he's considerably more squishy and can get through seemingly impassable spaces.

"Even quite a large octopus, they can squeeze down to the size of their mouth which is the only really hard part of their body," Yarrall said. "It's a beak, very much like a parrot beak."

Of the aquarium's two octopuses, only Inky decided to take his chances on the outside, leaving his tank-mate behind. But he is unlikely to be missed, because octopuses are solitary creatures that prefer to live alone.

Yarrell said it is the first escape that he has experienced at the aquarium, telling the Hawkes Bay Today paper: "Yes, it's most unusual and yes, we'll be watching the other one."

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 was hand-fed fish three times a week.

A couple of months after his arrival, the Napier City Council ran a competition to name the octopus, which attracted more than 100 entries.

Gerry Townsend's suggestion "Inky" was the winner as voted by aquarium staff as squirting ink is one of the unique escape mechanisms possessed by an octopus.

Inky the Octopus Breaks Out of New Zealand Aquarium | World