Truth or Urban Legend?

marrsgirl

Larval Mass
Registered
#1
I'm new here, and maybe this topic has already been discussed, but I ended up here while searching the web for an original article about the following story:
Somewhere in the murky recesses of my mind, I recall a story of an octopus who was sneaking out of it's tank at night, stealing crabs from a neighboring tank, and then returning to it's own. The setting was a laboratory of some sort, and the bewildered scientists solved the mystery of the disappearing crabs by installing a video camera.
The story stayed with me, but when searching for some evidence of it's truth, I only found it referenced in other articles in passing. And like an urban legend, the details changed in every retelling; the tanks were in a private home, or at an aquarium in Florida, where the theft was discovered by a night watchman, and it was lobsters that were disappearing. One web blogger stated that she saw this show "the other day" about this incident, when I have known of this story for years.
I never did find the original article.
Would anyone here be able to cite an original source for this story, or provide a link for it? Or just provide some proof that would debunk it as urban legend?
Many thanks!
 

Nancy

Titanites
Staff member
Moderator
#2
Hi marrsgirl and welcome to TONMO.com! :welcome:

This question has come up before on this website and it appears that it's not just an urban legend.

Have a look at this thread (start from the beginning)

urban legend

You can also search on "urban legend".

The most recent story of a similar escape come from Australia, an octopus named Stumpy.

He has had a colourful start coming into our home. We believe he was found in a rockpool in Western Australia, just before he was due to come over to us in NSW, we believe that he had escaped his holding tank to help himself to some crabs in another tank...on his way back to his tank, he climed into the wrong one and entered a shark tank - there was a bit of a commotion and he now has 2 short tenticles - which seem to be growing....then when my husband picked him up from our aquarium, he escaped the net he was being held in and was scurrying across the floor of the shop!
(Post by Benebehenry)

Nancy
 

Jean

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#4
:welcome: marrsgirl

We had an episode like that at the aquarium I work in (although I think its relatively common!) Ours went after the Crayfish (Spiney rock lobster) in the next tank but one and was back in his tank by the 10.30 pm checks. The missing crays were put down to late night grad student meals (we're part of the Marine Science dept of Otago University) although they vigorously denied any wrong doing! One night the curator did the checks half an hour earlier and there was the culprit caught red tentacled!! The curator then had to eat humble pie with the grads who were (for once!) completely innocent!!

j
 

chrono_war01

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#5
you sound as if you don't trust grads, mind to elaborate on what exactly happened before the "Blame-the-grads-on-crayfish-missing" inccident? :wink:
 

Jean

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#6
of course I trust Grads CW I AM one after all! What happened was that the Crays were mysteriously disappearing during the night and the octopus was always found to be safely in his tank....so of course the thief couldn't possibly have been him! the theory was that grad students working in the lab after hours were having the crays for dinner!! But it twas the Octi!

J
 

DHyslop

Architeuthis
Supporter
#7
I believe there's an iteration of this story in one of Dr. Woods' articles about ceph-keeping. I believe the setting was the apartment of two marine bio grad students, one accusing the other of feeding his octo during the night; until he got up late and found a wet trail across the wall to the feeder tank

Dan
 

Jean

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#9
DHyslop said:
I believe there's an iteration of this story in one of Dr. Woods' articles about ceph-keeping. I believe the setting was the apartment of two marine bio grad students, one accusing the other of feeding his octo during the night; until he got up late and found a wet trail across the wall to the feeder tank

Dan
Yeah Dan, I think it happens comparatively often, some are I'm sure urban myths the only reason I know ours happened is that I've spoken to people involved plus the octi could take refuge in the tank inbetween so wouldn't be out of water all that long. Plus octis are known to leave their den to feed and return so if the octi considered one tank to be a den then it's fairly easy to explain the behaviour!

J
 

Neogonodactylus

Haliphron Atlanticus
Staff member
Moderator
#10
I remain a complete sceptic regarding these stories. I have certainly had my share of escapes, but usually we find the wayword beast dried up in a corner covered with dust bunnies.

One thing that you have to ask yourself about these stories - and no I do not trust grad students - is where is the evidence. Give an octopus a reasonably large crayfish or crab and it will not eat it all, There will be some husk of an exoskeleton left. Yet these mystified biologists can't find the evidence. The crustaceans are missing, but where is the exoskeleton? It isn't in the octopus's tank. It isn't in the crustacean tank. I guess the grad students, aka sneaky octopus, buried it iin the back yard or put it down the garbage disposal.

Roy
 

erich orser

Architeuthis
Supporter
Registered
#11
All I can say regarding this one is that a tropical fish shop I stop to visit occasionally off Ventura Blvd. doesn't seem to take adequate precautions in securing their tanks; I've gone to look at the octopus only to find an empty habitat. When this was brought to the attention
of the guys working there, after a quick search it was discovered a couple tanks down, hiding amid the remains of whatever tiny crustacean was supposed to be living there. Perhaps this was it's intended meal and the staff simply didn't move the signs when they got a new octo, but they definitely acted like he wasn't where he was supposed to be. The tanks, by the way, are a series of cubes right up against one another, all of the same height, size, etc., so if this octopus did actually escape to go foraging, he would not have had to spend much time out of the water to do it. The octopus tank simply had a hinged cover weighed down with a piece of coral, if I'm recalling correctly.

Once again, however, there's no actual evidence.
 

GPO87

Sepia elegans
Staff member
Moderator
#12
Ya, this isn't an urban legend... I remember a few years back this happened at the Vancouver Aquarium... it took them a really long time to figure out how the octopus escaped its tank. I think they even had safety netting up. Since octopi can squeeze through anything bigger than their beak I guess he just escaped out of one of the tubes that lead out of his tank.

MAN THOSE GUYS ARE SMART!!

Ps. :welcome:
 

chrono_war01

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#13
GPO87 said:
Ya, this isn't an urban legend... I remember a few years back this happened at the Vancouver Aquarium... it took them a really long time to figure out how the octopus escaped its tank. I think they even had safety netting up. Since octopi can squeeze through anything bigger than their beak I guess he just escaped out of one of the tubes that lead out of his tank.

MAN THOSE GUYS ARE SMART!!

Ps. :welcome:
Where exactly is that Aquarium? Is it a GPO?
 
#14
Vancouver aquarium here in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, northern hemisphere of Planet Earth. I remember going to see the GPO in the aquarium as a little kid and being disappointed b/c it was always blobbed up in a corner. i wanted to see it jet aropund and shoot ink and so on. no luck :(
 

CapnNemo

Vampyroteuthis
Supporter
#15
Hi

There is a link on this thread in an earlier post that doesn't work, and I can't find it by searching under 'Urban Legend' it may have pointed to what I'm going to say now in which case I apologise.

I'm absolutely certain this was featured on a Discovery Channel Documentary called 'The Octopus Show' or something like that, which I've seen a few times. I don't know if it was mocked up or not but they interviewed the scientist in question and then filmed it happening for the programme, it must have been mocked up because it had multiple camera angles, but the Octopus definitely got out the tank and got to the other one.

They also had footage of an octo crawling over rocks from tide pool to tide pool at low tide. It was amazing.

Sorry if someone else has already mentioned 'The Octopus Show'.

:unionjac: David
 

Jean

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#16
Neogonodactylus said:
I remain a complete sceptic regarding these stories. I have certainly had my share of escapes, but usually we find the wayword beast dried up in a corner covered with dust bunnies.

One thing that you have to ask yourself about these stories - and no I do not trust grad students - is where is the evidence. Give an octopus a reasonably large crayfish or crab and it will not eat it all, There will be some husk of an exoskeleton left. Yet these mystified biologists can't find the evidence. The crustaceans are missing, but where is the exoskeleton? It isn't in the octopus's tank. It isn't in the crustacean tank. I guess the grad students, aka sneaky octopus, buried it iin the back yard or put it down the garbage disposal.

Roy
Roy,

The skeletons were found .....in the crayfish tank! It was just assumed that the octopus wouldn't do that and return to it's tank, so it was assumed the students were placing the remains back in the cray tank! BUT the curator came in early and caught the octi in the act as it were! You can be sure if we see signs of this happening again we'll set up the time lapse video and get some evidence!

The octopus tank is now sealed tho' and much harder to escape from!!

Cheers

Jean
 

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