Wellington octopus a world-beater

Ozy has the quickest tentacles in town

TOM HUNT
Last updated 12:32 13/01/2014
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

Ozy the ‘‘precocious’’ octopus is a record-breaker after being possibly the first of his species to open a jar in under 60 seconds.

Elle and Ozy
LUKE APPLEBY
MOLLUSC AND ME: Wellington journalist Elle Hunt and her sponsored ocotpus Ozymandias, who has proved himself pretty handy with a jar lid.

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Ozymandias the ''precocious'' octopus is a record-breaker after being possibly the first of his species to open a jar in under a minute.

And don't be put off by the name, Ozy is a Wellingtonian, albeit one sponsored by an expat Brit right now travelling through Mexico.

In front of a packed room at the Island Bay Marine Education Centre on Sunday, Ozy managed to open a closed jar to get at his breakfast, a purple shore crab.

While the feat is nothing new, a sub-60-second time was a first for the aquarium, marine centre discovery programme manager Julian Hodge said.

''We would like to think it's a world first.''

In an attempted recreation of the feat today, Ozy failed in time, opening the jar and getting the cancer crab in one minute and 43.9 seconds.

Far from being a fun - if slightly morbid - viewing attraction, Mr Hodge said the exercise was part of preparing Ozy to hunt and problem solve in the wild when he was released off Island Bay in a couple of weeks.

In 2012, another octopus at the marine centre, Cassandra, achieved the same feat, but didn't manage it in under a minute.

After Ozy was brought in by fishermen who had caught him off Lyall Bay eight weeks ago, it was clear the ''responsive and precocious'' octopus would be up to the task.

And sure enough, with more than 60 people watching yesterday, Ozy did it in under a minute, thrilling his sponsor and namer, former Dominion Post Capital Day reporter Elle Hunt, Judy Hutt from the marine centre said.

''Ozy glided up to the jar,'' Ms Hutt posted on Facebook.

''He delicately touched it with one of his arms. Then, in a flash, he leapt on top of it. The crowd went wild. Young children screamed. Everyone craned their necks.

''Every eye was on Ozy. Would he be able to do it? The time keeper looked serious. He started counting. 30 seconds, 35 seconds, 40 seconds, 45 seconds, 50 seconds. Oh no, he's not going to make it!!! All that training down the drain. Elle will be so disappointed.

"Then Ozy looked up at the crowd, he seemed to smile. The lid of the jar was cast aside and Ozy had the crab in his grip. Everyone cheered. The time keeper said 'It's official - 54 seconds'.''

Speaking from Mexico, Ms Hunt - who lives in Wellington - said she was proud of the octopus's achievement and looked forward to seeing him when she returned to New Zealand.

''Best $20 I've ever spent.''

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- The Dominion Post

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