Saturday, September 10, 2011


It's my 48th birthday today! Let's spend a few minutes with Squirt. A typically rascally octopus, Squirt lives at an aquarium in Weymouth, Dorset, U.K. He's been there for 4 months and has taken every opportunity to hose down anyone who walks in front of his tank. Since he is not on public display, this usually means staff member Greg Casten (pictured above), who has been drenched more times than he can count: “We have to clean out Squirt’s tank every other day, removing the shells of the crabs he dines on and giving his glass a clean. It’s got so that you have to don waterproofs before starting the job.” Drawing water in and out through special tubes alongside the beak is how octopuses absorb oxygen. But curator Derek Scales explains how this particular resident turned the natural process to his advantage: “Squirt’s a really inquisitive character and soon learned to lift the top part of his body above the water in his tank to take a look around. Then he realized that if he breathed out while he was doing that he could fire a stream of water like a hose. He probably fired at one of our team accidentally at first, but having got a reaction he started doing it fairly regularly. For the past month he’s been squirting anyone who passes his tank.” This includes the new interns at the Weymouth aquarium, but only until Squirt is shipped out to one of the other Sea Life centers. “He’s such a playful animal, and so intelligent, we’ve all grown to love him and will miss him when he’s gone,” says Scales. For now, visitors can watch live video of Squirt on a screen next to the Turtle Sanctuary. Wish it was a webcam...

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