Inky the octopus may have dreamed about escaping his tank before he slipped through a six-inch-wide drain about four months ago at the New Zealand National Aquarium. He not only had the ability to squish his football-sized-body through the drain but could also likely open jars, solve puzzles, and apparently got bored.
When I first read about Inky’s escape, I realized how little I know about the Earth’s sea creatures and invertebrates like the octopus. I wondered if Inky had planned his escape. How did he know the ocean was at the end of that drainage pipe? Could he make a distinction between the experience of being in an enclosed secure tank versus the vast, open and dangerous ocean?
I read several articles that stated octopuses have memory and can recall humans as well as respond to their name being called like a dog or cat. A feature written for Discover magazine describes octopuses as mollusks with complex brains that have tactile memory centers. They are also said to sleep.
In the article, a biologist observed, “that octopuses, ordinarily hypervigilant, may sleep deeply. Their eyes glaze over, their breathing turns slow and shallow, they don’t respond to light taps…”
Known for deception and being savvy hunters, an octopus like Inky could have very well been devising strategy in his dreams.
We should all be more like Inky; flexible and ready to jump at the opportunity to go beyond our constraints and explore the unknown.