Turre the octopus can open a jar with his tentacles
By Antti Manninen
Turre is the master of his stage. The common octopus wraps his tentacles around a jar of food as soon as the keeper has lowered it into the aquarium at the Sea Life exhibition at Helsinki's Linnanmäki amusement park.
Soon Turre starts to twist off the cap of the plastic jar. It is open in less than a minute. Then he grabs a delicious prawn from the jar, and checks again and again to see that the jar is empty.
Turre holds the jar and the lid for a short time in the tentacles before grabbing onto the surface of the glass wall, as if to bow to the audience and say that the show is over.
Markus Dernjatin, curator of Sea Life, says that the talents of this native of Spanish coastal waters were revealed by coincidence when he grabbed a food jar held by one of the keepers of the aquarium, and opened it up.
Naturally, Turre does not have to play tricks to be fed. Prawns, shellfish, and clams are his favourites. "In the wild, octopuses like Turre will collect live clams in their home caves and eat them as needed."
The common octopus is an intelligent animal, and learns quickly to recognise the patterns, such as triangles, on the lids of jars. "Its intelligence is very difficult to compare with that of a dog, for instance", Dernjatin adds.
The tentacles of the octopus are strong, so the lid of the aquarium must be closed tight, lest the animal escape. The official name of the Linnanmäki octopus is Amanda, although its gender remains undetermined. Turre is the nickname given by the keepers.
Dernjatin does not recommend octopuses as pets for home aquariums, because they are very difficult to care for. The sea water needs to be kept at a temperature of 16 degrees, and half of the water has to be changed every day.
The common octopus usually lives to the age of about two.
At about one year of age, Turre has become a big favourite at Sea Life.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 10.4.2008
ANTTI MANNINEN / Helsingin Sanomat