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Inky the octopus engineers epic aquarium break, becomes celebrity

A captive octopus went all "Finding Nemo" with a clever escape plan that took him from an aquarium tank back into the wilds of the ocean.

Inky the Octopus, prior to his escape.

National Aquarium of New Zealand

There aren't a lot of eight-armed celebrities out there, but Inky the octopus is one now.

Inky may be officially classified as a "common New Zealand octopus," but he's become a global star thanks to a brilliant jailbreak that would have the cast of "Escape from Alcatraz" saying, "Why didn't we think of that?"

Inky fled the confines of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand about three months ago, though news of the daring ploy just surfaced and spread like an ink blast through water this week.

Here's what the amateur CSI team at the aquarium believes happened: The tank was left a little bit ajar. Inky opened the lid, climbed out, located a 6-inch-wide (150-millimeter) drain opening and slithered out. "There was a wet streak across the floor in the direction of a drain pipe which went out to the Pacific Ocean," says Robyn McLean, communications manager for the Napier City Council.

Twitter is having a grand old time with the octopus escape story, creating a "Free Inky" movie poster and lauding the sneaky cephalopod as a hero. That puts him on the same animal pedestal as last year's audacious and hungry social-media sensation Pizza Rat.

Inky's bold breakout isn't too surprising when you know that octopuses are highly intelligent and capable of using tools. There's a famous YouTube video showing an octopus escaping from a jar with a threaded lid on the top.

There is a chance that Inky may be spotted in the ocean again someday. He has shortened limbs, an artifact of fighting with fish in the wild. That makes it easy to identify him. No doubt scuba divers will be on the lookout for the squishy celebrity.

(Via The New York Times)