There was an item doing the rounds yesterday about Inky the Octopus that escaped from New Zealand’s National Aquarium. It was a feel-good story reminiscent of “Finding Nemo”, and in many ways it was quite extraordinary what Inky achieved – He got out of the enclosure when the lid was up, got into an overflow drain to the floor, along an underfloor pipe, then 50m of pipe out to sea. Quite remarkable really. But it got me thinking about his time at the Aquarium.
When you look at the fish tank he was kept in, it is little surprise he wanted to escape. You’d be lucky if it was 2 metres long. To keep an intelligent animal like an Octopus in such small confines is hard to justify really. Certainly it would be a miserable existence.
Many years ago while diving I watched an Octopus hunting for Lobster. I followed him for about 10 minutes as he stalked around, eventually finding a pretty decent sized crayfish which he summarily dispatched and ate. I remember thinking how clever he was, and how fortunate I was to witness such a thing.
Which brings me back to the Aquariums in general. Today I don’t think we can justify the capture and imprisonment of intelligent animals from the sea anymore. Whales, Dolphins, Sharks, Manta Rays, Octopus, and countless other animals continue to be taken from the wild, and placed in tanks for our own amusement, and I think its time this industry was closed down.
Aquariums of course argue it helps with education. Which is nonsense really. We don’t travel to the moon to learn about it. We don’t get gonorrhoea to learn about it. Nor do we climb Mount everest to learn about it. Education happens in many ways – it is not dependent on witnessing a fake environment.