Security Officer Clara Nilsen thought it was a banana peel, lying on the ground in front of the Aquarium’s shale reef exhibit.
A strange oversight by the custodial staff, she thought. But when she bent down to pick it up, it wasn’t a banana peel—it was a fist-sized red octopus.
Nilsen then noticed a slime trail leading back to the shale reef pool, so she picked up the octopus and dipped it back in, whence it squirted its ink and disappeared under a rock.
Disappearing, Aquarium staff later learned, was this octopus’ greatest trick—it turns out Nilsen was the first person to ever see it. Because the red octopus isn’t part of the shale reef exhibit, Aquarium staff deduced that it must have hitched a ride on a rock as a juvenile, and matured completely in hiding. Crabs in the exhibit, they also realized, were disappearing.
That octopus is now being cared for behind the scenes, and will soon be a resident of a splash zone pool. There are a many other octopuses behind the scenes as well, readying to take the stage in the Aquarium's upcoming exhibit, the highly-anticipated “Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes” opening April 12.
A members-only night on March 15 provided a small sneak peek of “Tentacles” by way of an auditorium presentation, and there’s little doubt it will be a wonder to behold. Aside from the creatures named in the exhibit’s title, it will also feature the country’s largest nautilus display, and maybe the world’s.
And as for the red octopus who broke in, then broke out, it might get upstaged by another species arriving to the Aquarium, the gloriously-named wunderpus. It will be interesting to see what it’s capable of.