Jul 20, 2015

The Soul of an Octopus

by Sy Montgomery

The octopus is an alien intelligence, right here on earth. These creatures are fascinating. Sy Montgomery wowed me as usual. She's one of my favorite nature writers- always accessible, easy to get immersed in her stories, I can't put the book down. She tells about getting to know several octopuses in succession at a public aquarium behind the scenes, becoming a priveledged enough visitor to receive an access badge and herself answering questions about the animal for visitors. Ocotopuses have a very short lifespan in spite of all their smarts (three to four years at best) so the aquarium usually had a younger one adjusting to life in captivity behind the scenes when the current octopus on display began to age. They each had their own personality, some appearing to like the company and attention of humans, others not. They presented different challenges- a bored octopus will cause trouble by attempting to escape or eating its tankmates, so the aquarium staff have to find toys to amuse it or make food puzzles to keep it occupied. In between visits to the aquarium tanks, Montgomery took diving lessons and made forays into the ocean with guided groups, hoping to observe wild octopuses (they're hard to find). She also relates many interesting things about many other fish and invertebrates at the aquarium or that she encountered on the ocean dives, and talks about her developing friendships with other octopus fans, how contact with the octopus changed some of their lives. Mostly it is full of wonder for this strange, incredible animal and knowledge shared. And now I want to read more about octopus, must find more books. There's several on my list, but I haven't been able to find copies yet...

I borrowed this book from my public library.

Rating: 4/5       261 pages, 2015


  1. Octopuses are so strange and interesting to me! I only found out relatively recently that they are as smart as they are, and I've been wanting to learn more ever this. Sounds like this would be a great place to start!

  2. I agree - Sy Montgomery is awesome. We used to read some of her books geared at kids when my daughter was younger. I may have to pick this one up.


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