Octopus found in Florida parking garage: Someone call Aquaman

Some claim the photo can't be real, but a professor has a solid, and scary, warning for why the creature showed up where it did.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

It's like a deleted scene from "Finding Dory." Is that really an octopus there in a Miami garage, possibly looking for a compact parking spot?

Last week, when Richard Conlin shared the photo he snapped in his Miami Beach, Florida, condominium parking garage, some on Facebook and elsewhere called it a hoax. (Others just made Cthulu jokes, because you can never get enough of those.)

But the Miami Herald consulted University of Miami biology professor Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, who told the newspaper the creature is the right species to be in the area, and she has a theory as to how it got there. Yes, as you might have guessed, it involves climate change.

Sealey thinks the octopus was hiding in a drainage pipe, because rising seas mean those pipes are now partially submerged during very high tides, and attract sea life, which the octopus eats. The creature was probably hiding there enjoying the food and the dark space when an especially high tide dubbed a king tide (exacerbated by the recent supermoon) rolled in.

"When that much sea water comes in the octopus is like 'what's this?' and goes to explore and ends up in a bad place," Sealey told the newspaper.

The paper warns that this kind of incident may become more common, linking to its March story about how even conservative estimates project sea level will rise 3 feet (a little less than a meter) by 2100, affecting millions of Floridians.

As for the octopus in question, Conlin later wrote, "Security from the building filled a bucket with seawater , rescued it and placed it back in the bay...I spoke to them this morning and they said they believe it got away safely."