The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery.

A Giant Pacific Octopus, Octopus dofleini, filmed at the Seattle Aquarium some time ago. Note the amazing size of the animal compared to the young observer. Also notice the animal’s unusual eye. The pupil is the horizontal line. According to one source, The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Northwest, the largest specimen on record was 16 feet long and weighed in at 600 pounds. That’s a lot of cephalopod! What a shame they have such short life spans.


Every now and then you read a book with something so new and startling it dramatically changes your outlook on things you thought you already knew. That is exactly the effect Sy Montgomery’s book had on me. I knew that octopuses had a reputation for unusual intelligence, but did you know that captive species enjoy being touched and petted like your family dog and actually become attached to certain people? Or that they also enjoy wrapping their tentacles around their human friends? That does not apply to all humans, though, only those they recognize as friends. There are some of our homo sapient colleagues they dislike or are afraid of. These people may receive a sudden drenching blast of water from the animal. In Sy Montgomery’s amazing book she describes how her initial fascination with octopuses led her to become more and more fond of them, and in the process of getting closer she discovered a surprising intelligence and consciousness she (and me) never knew existed. Throughout the book Sy relates her personal encounters with captive and wild octopuses. Of particular interest to our Northwest Wildlife lovers is her very close relationships with our Pacific Giant Octopus, some even at the Seattle Aquarium. The book also opens up a new way to view all of our animal friends; something I’ve pondered for a long time. What are they thinking? How do they perceive the world? How do they perceive themselves? Read this book and delve into an incredible animal adventure.

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