A common octopus at Weymouth Sea Life Park has been christened ‘Squirt’ because he gives everyone who passes his tank a soaking.
The mischievous cephalopod has been at the Sea Life estate’s main collection facility behind the Weymouth attraction for nearly four months.
Like all octopuses he draws water into his body to absorb the oxygen from it and then passes it out again through special tubes alongside his beak.
“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,” said curator Derek Scales.
“Then he realised 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.”
Aquarist Greg Casten, who spends more time than anyone else amongst the tanks where Squirt is housed, 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,” said Greg.
“It’s got so that you have to don waterproofs before starting the job,” he added.
Derek, Greg and their colleagues take great delight in getting newly arrived helpers on work experience to clean out Squirt’s tank.
In spite of Squirt’s antics however, none of his keepers are looking forward to his departure to take a starring role in one of the growing network of Sea Life centres.
“He’s such a playful animal, and so intelligent, we’ve all grown to love him and will miss him when he’s gone,” said Derek.
Until he does depart however, Sea Life Park visitors will now be able to watch him delivering his frequent ‘hose downs.’
Although he is not in a public display tank a camera has been positioned pointing at Squirt’s quarters, with pictures relayed to a screen next to the large observation window next to the Turtle Sanctuary entrance.