Can An Octopus Really Live Outside Water? Hank In 'Finding Dory' Raises Some Questions
Recent trailers for Finding Dory, Pixar's highly anticipated sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo, introduced fans to a whole new cast of characters and, unlike Finding Nemo, a great number of the supporting cast are not fish, but other oceanic species. One such new friend is Hank, the grumpy octopus who reluctantly helps Dory find her family and navigate the Marine Life Institute. In the trailers, Hank is seen doing things that seem almost like super powers — he's camouflaging himself like a chameleon and wandering around the Institute, outside of his tank, at night. Hank's extreme abilities, while fun, do seem a bit extraordinary, causing me to wonder if it's possible that an octopus can live outside of water.
The short answer is, yes, octopuses can leave the water for a short amount of time. This is part of the reason why animators made Hank an octopus in the first place. Octopuses are known for their ability to camouflage, hide from predators, and their physical ability to move due to their tentacle suckers. All of these attributes proved vital to the plot of Finding Dory. "We wanted to try other species that we hadn't seen in the first movie. And we needed a way for a fish to move across man-made areas if there wasn't water. What better way than an octopus that could basically squeeze in and crawl over everything?" explained director Andrew Stanton at a Finding Dory event, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
There's a lot we don't know about octopuses. Other than the fact that they tend to have eight tentacles (or appendages, if you will), octopuses are, for many, just another oceanic mystery. But, if you've been paying attention to viral animal videos, then you know that an octopus can survive outside of water, at least for a short amount of time. Videos and stories of aquarium octopi staging elaborate escapes have gone viral many times, and each one proves that an octopus can physically survive outside their water tanks. Just this year, Inky the octopus escaped from an aquarium in New Zealand by squeezing out of his tank from a small opening and shimmying down a drainpipe and into the ocean.
Octopuses can survive outside of water for at least a few minutes, though reports vary on how long they can truly function outside of water. Typically, due to the suckers on their tentacle arms, they like to stay around water, so if there's wanter on the floor of an aquarium, for example, it's more likely the octopus will move around on that water trail.
Based on sneak peeks from Finding Dory, it looks like Hank might not have too many limits on how long he can survive outside of water, or on what surfaces he prefers to travel on. For Dory's sake, we'll give Pixar a pass on this one.