In July 2017, the Washington Post reported that hackers had used a fish tank to hack a North American Casino with the aim of stealing data.
How does this even happen???
We tried to find out the backstory, and we discovered that there are even crazier (but true) aquarium stories that have made headlines. In this article, we look at the aquarium internet connection that exposed a casino and other cases where aquariums have made the news.
1. Aquarium Internet Connection Exposes Casino Data
In a rather unusual hacking operation, hackers acquired data from a North American casino by hacking an internet-connected fish tank. According to a report in the Washington Post, the fish tank had Internet-connected smart sensors that regulated the cleanliness, food, and temperature of the tank (Source).
The Washington Post quoted Justin Fier at cybersecurity firm Darktrace: “Somebody got into the fish tank and used it to move around into other areas (of the network) and sent out data” (Source).
Even though the report does not provide the name of the casino, it indicates that 10GB of data was moved to a device located in Finland. They provided no explanation for the type of data stolen.
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2. Inky’s Independence Day
Inky is a famous octopus that lived at the National Aquarium in New Zealand before escaping back to the sea.
Though no one is exactly clear about what happened to Inky, The Guardian reports that the staff at the aquarium believe that the octopus escaped from its tank in the quiet hours of the night. The report speculates that someone forgot to put his tank’s lid on. Inky then used a 50-meter drainpipe to get back to the freedom of the sea.
According to the Guardian report, the National Manager of the aquarium, Rob Yarrell, said the octopus did not flee as a result of being unhappy, but because he was curious. He also said that drainpipe, which they believe Inky went through, opens to the waters of Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s North Island. It is his view that the octopus was not stolen as the security in the aquarium is very tight (Source).
Inky’s escape may also have been made easier by the fact that octopuses have no bones, making it easy for them to fit in tiny spaces. Inky had been taken to the national aquarium by a local farmer who had found him caught in a crayfish pot. To this day, the aquarium’s employees still hope that Inky will one day come back home (Source).
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3. The Treacherous Octopus
Inky is not the only octopus that has made the news.
Brendan Borrell writes for ScientificAmerica.com, a website dedicated to scientific news. He cites a story told by Jennifer Mather, a psychologist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. According to Borrell, Mather has dedicated 35 years of her life studying octopuses.
She tells the story of an octopus which was a resident of England’s Brighton Aquarium. The octopus would get out of its tank at night and eat lumpfish in the next tank.
Several fish disappeared before the employees at the aquarium discovered that the scheming octopus next door was responsible (Source).
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4. The Mystery of the Disappearing Fish
Staff employed at Maidenhead Aquatics, an aquarium supply store in the United Kingdom discovered that fish were disappearing from one of their tanks. When they decided to get to the bottom of the issue, they identified their culprit: a Bobbit worm that had been living in the tank for ten years (Source).
Bobbit worms are rare, and their habits are not well-documented. They typically bury themselves in the sand, leaving only a few centimeters exposed. Hence, one can remain unspotted for long periods. However, the exposed part includes a heavily muscled mouth that can strike with such power that it can split a fish in half (Source). Bobbit worms can grow up to 10 feet long (Source). However, the worm at Maidenhead was reportedly only 4 feet long.
According to a report by the British newspaper, the Telegraph, once the worm had been discovered, it split into three sections with its tail end ending up dead. The offending worm is still at the aquarium where employees are observing it (Source).
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5. Giant Bobbit Worm’s Two Year Hide
The British online Newspaper, Mail Online, reports another Bobbit encounter.
The website reports that a man cleaning his aquarium came across a giant Bobbit worm that had been hiding in his aquarium. The maroon colored creature had small spiky tentacles and was 1.2 meters long. The Mail Online reports that the creature had been there for two years (Source).
The article does not make it clear what happened to the worm. You can watch the video (viewed over 8.5 million times on YouTube) of the discovery below.
6. A Stroller for the Shark
A July 2018 report in the New York Times describes a daring trio that took the San Antonio Aquarium’s encouragement to interact with their animals rather too far.
The newspaper reports that when police received a 911 call that a small shark had been stolen from a pool at the aquarium, the first thing they did was to check the security footage. To their disbelief, they saw three people strolling through the hallway, pushing the small shark wrapped like a baby in a carriage.
The thieves had carried a net to remove the shark from its pool before ducking into a filter room. They used a bucket to transfer the shark into a stroller and made their way to the parking lot. The police were able to track down the vehicle used to transport the shark. To the relief of everyone involved, the shark was soon back in the aquarium (Source).
7. The Mysterious Shark
When the owners of a Victorian wildlife park in Australia abandoned it in 2012, they left what the Australian news website, News.com.au, describes as a “seriously spooky ghost.” The website was referring to a shark floating in a green tank filled with formaldehyde (Source). Formaldehyde is a liquid used to preserve dead animal bodies.
Even though the home of the “mysterious shark” was shut down in 2012, when the Melbourne photographer, Dom Krapski, heard about the floating shark, he decided to go and investigate. “The shark’s shed was the first thing we found, all of a two-minute walk from the property gate. We just pulled up a roller door, and there it was: a huge dark tank, surrounded by clutter,” reports Krapski.
He says that vandals have broken into the area, and it will only be a matter of time before the whole tank is vandalized, leaving the “mysterious shark” exposed (Source).
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