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Sy Montgomery

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

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By Sy Montgomery

One woman's obsessive quest to befriend and understand the octopus, Ex Machina-style.

Format: Paperback
Pages: 272

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From sea monsters to Cthulhu, the octopus is often portrayed as a predator in the media. Popular naturalist Sy Montgomery is out to disprove that myth with this blend of memoir and scientific inquiry, full of crazy octopus trivia.

From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. Each creature shows her cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orang utan; jetting water to bounce balls; and endlessly tricking companions with multiple “sleights of hand” to get food.

Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. Sy chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.

Read if you: want the answer to "Is it octopuses or octopi???"