The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium was flooded with at least 200 gallons of water Thursday, February 26th after a two-spotted octopus apparently tampered with a valve in its tank, resulting in numerous inquiries from the public, aquarium staff said.
Aquarium staff member Aaron Kind said he first noticed the flood when he arrived for work in the morning and he traced the source to the recently renovated Kids’ Corner tanks, where he shut off the flow of water.
“The first thing I noticed was that there was water everywhere,” Kind said.
Aquarist Brianne Emhiser was one of the first staff members to arrive at the scene and said she traced the source of the problem to the aquarium’s small two-spotted octopus.
“Our best guess is that the octopus, who is incredibly gregarious and curious, tugged on a valve in her tank last night causing a steady stream of water to overflow out of the tank,” she said. “We’re estimating we lost a few hundred gallons of sea water onto the aquarium floor.”
Water from the octopus tank made its way through the aquarium and back into the staff offices, soaking carpets and newly installed environmentally friendly linoleum and cork flooring, staff noted. No animals were harmed during the incident.
“It’s actually quite comical ñ I think the whole staff is still laughing about the ordeal,” said Tara Crow, the aquarium’s public programs manager.
Despite the large mess from the flood, employees were able to clean the public area in time for a first-grade class that arrived for a school field trip.
Staff noted to numerous callers that the most effective way to help the aquarium is to participate in the Aquadoption program, sponsoring one of seven of the local species on display at the aquarium, including the octopus. A yearlong “aquadoption” helps pay for the care of the animals, and, in the case of the two-spotted octopus, will help offset the associated cleanup costs from the seawater spill, staff said.
The aquarium at 1600 Ocean Front Walk in Santa Monica is open 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 12:30 to 5 p.m. on weekends.