Octopus - nocturnal visits?

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by jhemdal, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. jhemdal

    jhemdal Cuttlefish Registered

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    All,

    We are working on a behavioral project with our Giant Pacific Octopus and want to confirm something: virtually every public aquarist has "heard" the story about the octopus that would leave its tank at night, move over to a nearby one, eat some fish, then return to its own tank by morning. Most public aquariums say in their oral history, that it happened at their facility. A few months ago, I overheard one of our volunteers telling a tour group that it had happened at my facility! It never did, but this volunteer was sure that it had. My guess is that this is an urban legend because;

    1) It sounds so plausible
    2) It is a humorous story
    3) I've never had a professional aquarist report they actually saw it themselves (its always a FOAF - "friend of a friend")
    4) The stories are almost identical - its always a GPO, the "curator" is always mystified at first about the missing fish, happened to be working late one night and saw it happen, the octopus always returns to its own aquarium, the fish are usually some large Sebastes, etc.

    I don't doubt that some octos "go walkabout", but GPO's aren't really known for this. My guess is that even if they did manage to land in another tank (and not the space between them) that they would eat some fish and then stay put - and not move back to their original tank.

    Has anyone any FIRST HAND knowledge of this?

    Thanks,

    Jay Hemdal
    Curator of Fishes
    The Toledo Zoo
     
  2. OctopusV

    OctopusV GPO Registered

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    Well, jhemdal, those types of stunts with an octopus escaping from its tank for a midnight snack are possible, and they have happened, but any octopus could do it. It isn't just GPOs or Bimacs or Dwarves any Octo you put in a tank, will try to get out. Plus, it isn't always fish, it's sometimes crabs or lobsters, sometimes it's food for the octopus the next day, sometimes it's creatures on display in a nearby tank. Plenty of GPOs have escaped, but not as many as other, smaller Octos such as Cyanea, Bimacs, Californicus, and others. GPO's just are put in the story most often because people like it when it's a big one for some reason.
     
  3. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    i strongly beleive that this is an old wive's tale with no real truth in it at all, other than perhaps an octopus did crawl out and luckily make it to another tank but i am especially dubious concerning an octopus climbing into a goldfish tank and eating all the feeder fish.

    Surly the osmotic change from salt to fresh water would put an octopus off?

    I have seen and heard this story many times, on and offline.

    So i agree that it is an urban legend with no truth.

    I once had an Octopus filosus that climbed out of its tank... no other specimen i have had has managed it.


    I also have had two octopuses in neighbouring tanks that would try to attack each other and they never figured out to go up or that glass was stopping them
     
  4. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    PS almost a year to the day since your last post LOL :D
     
  5. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi guys,

    This story is absolutely 110% TRUE!!! It happened at the Aquarium right here at Portobello!!!!

    The culprit was our Pinnoctopus cordiformis (then O. maorum ) and he skipped out of his tank over the top of another tank into the Crayfish tank ( Jasus edwardsii ) had a meal and skipped home before the resident technician did his late night checks! He was caught when the tech came in half an hour early to do the checks. I have since seen (PERSONALLY!) other members of this species do the exact same thing (although we've shifted the crays as it's too expensive to keep sending the boats and divers out for more!). We've since sealed the octi tank with perspex sheets (astroturf and all that sort of stuff didn't work!).

    Incredible but true.......I have seen with my own eyes!!!

    J
     
  6. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Jean,
    In retrospect i should have clarified my poo pooing a bit better :)

    I mainly scathe about the octopus crawling out the tank, along the floor and up into another tank scenario especially when it involves 'the girlfriends tropical freshwater fish' etc.

    I have no doubt that they could easily hurdle from one tank to the next.

    What's the distance between the two tanks Jean?
     
  7. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Colin,

    from the lip of one tank to the lip of the other about 2m, there's a smaller tank inbetween but no octi yummies in it!

    J
     
  8. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Would Pinnoctopus be a species likely to crwal through rockpools? Perhaps leaving the water for some species is not so much of a big deal...

    How would they find their way back though? Would that be a fluke?
     
  9. spooky

    spooky Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    ... well again, i wish someone had video footage of this or at least pictures, but i know it's just a spur of the moment kind of things. i bought "the octopus show" because it was the only video out there that i knew of that had footage of an octo climbing out of his tank and into a crab tank. i wish i could see a big pacific octo do this.
     
  10. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    I've never seen it crawl through rock pools, which of course doesn't mean it hasn't happened :D , but this is a BIG species (not as big as a GPO but pretty big) and I think someone would've spotted a 2m, 10kg octi in a rock pool!!

    Finding it's way back was no fluke, has happened two or three times, the first time may have been a fluke but these guys remember! We had one that didn't like the light and accidentally squirted seawater into the socket blowing it, after that we couldn't keep the lights on! It just repeatedly blew the bulbs. (we let him go, he got too expensive!)

    We had one which was found half way up the stairs to the staff common room (about 5m from his tank!) at the late night check. Took a bit of wrestling to get him back to his tank! That was a mammoth effort for him!

    Cheers

    Jean
     
  11. jhemdal

    jhemdal Cuttlefish Registered

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    Thanks for the info! You are now the second person who has confirmed this octo trick (with the requisite return to its original aquarium). The other was a curator who works for an aquarium in Denver, he had seen it at a previous facility where he had worked. In this case, the octo slimbed along some wire above the tank.
    Jay
     
  12. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    P. cordiformis (one of the macropus-type species) isn't a species that makes regular nocturnal night-forays between pools (it's not a common intertidal species ... well at least not anymore). I'm not so sure whether octopus are truly intertidal, or occur there simply because they are shallow water in habit (therefore encountered by the majority of non-diving people in the intertidal). I stand to be corrected on this.

    P. cordiformis, the type species of the Pinnoctopus genus (often referred to as the macropus-type), is found from the intertidal (infrequently) down to ~ 400 metres - a huge bathymetric range.
     
  13. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    True enough Steve, but they're pretty common in the Otago Harbour, which is pretty shallow. We have had many visitors to the aquarium who have seen them mooching around the shallow rocky area's around the low tide mark (NOT out of the water mind you). This especially happens around the spit at Aramoana and on the other side of the harbour around Hayward Point, Wellers Rock and Pudding Island. Our visitors usually come in like this :shock: "we just saw a HUGE octopus could it eat us/ drown us..........?"

    J
     

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