A lively female octopus at Manchester Sea Life Centre likes her aquarist so much she has been assigned him as her own playmate for an hour a day.
One year old common octopus ‘Miranda’ – named after the comedienne Miranda Hart because of her sense of humour – now has a dedicated hour’s playtime, every day with senior aquarist Joe Lavery.
Joe discovered Miranda, the jolly cephalopod thrives on interaction, while feeding her. She relishes the chance to clasp her tentacles on his fingers and climb up his arm.
Joe has patiently taught Miranda the trick of unscrewing a jam-jar to get into her food and the bond between man and octopus is now so strong, Joe is building his friend her own underwater maze.
The 23-year-old said: “Octopuses are highly intelligent. Miranda genuinely seems to recognise me and greet me happily every day. She loves nothing better than a bit of gentle wrestling.
“She could deliver a painful bite with her sharp beak-like mouth any time she wanted to but she enjoys our games so much I have absolutely no fear she ever will.”
Joe, who studied marine biology at Bangor University, has also discovered to his cost that Miranda is not above the occasional spot of mischief.
“She has tube-like siphons on the side of her head which are used to pass water over her gills and occasionally for propulsion,” he explained.
“She has discovered she can use them when partly out of the water to douse me with a high-speed jet of water. I’ve had quite a few soakings.”
Miranda is one of the Sea Life Centre’s most popular residents.
Joe continues: “Although octopuses are renowned for hiding, Miranda loves attention and enjoys putting on a show. As a species they wear their emotions on the outside too, changing colour according to their moods.”
In general, the darker the skin pattern the happier the octopus, and it was Miranda’s seemingly permanent dark hue that persuaded Joe’s colleagues that the pair’s unusual relationship should be cultivated.
He said: “I was asked if I’d be happy to devote at least an hour-a-day to play time with Miranda and of course I was happy to do this.”
SEA LIFE Manchester helps visitors understand, empathise and feel impassioned about the 5,000 plus amazing sea creatures in over 30 spectacular marine displays boasting over 1 million litres of water.
The aquarium strives to be the catalyst for thousands of children and families to find out more about the issues facing the marine environment today. In fact, research shows that aquariums like SEA LIFE play a major role in providing the best opportunity to see, interact with and find out more about marine life. Such opportunities greatly increase interest and proactive support for conservation activities, a cause that the centre is passionate about.
The brand takes a three-pronged approach to conservation – rescue, breed and protect – this forms the root of everything the aquaria do. Evidence of this environmentally conscious approach will be evident throughout the new attraction.
For more information or to book tickets for SEA LIFE Manchester, please see www.visitsealife.co.uk/manchester