The soul of an octopus : a surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness

by Montgomery, Sy,

Format: Print Book 2015.
Availability: Available at 3 Libraries 3 of 11 copies
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CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction QL430.3.O2 M66 2015
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Summary
In this astonishing book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig , Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus-a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature-and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.

Sy Montgomery's popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, "Deep Intellect," about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?

The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Naturalist Montgomery (Birdology, 2010) writes exceptionally affecting and enlightening books inspired by both rigorous scientific curiosity and enraptured wonder and empathy for all living beings, from dogs to chickens to tarantulas. Committed to illuminating the true, complex nature of diverse forms of animal consciousness, Montgomery headed to Boston's New England Aquarium to learn about one of Earth's most stupendously capable creatures, the octopus. Introduced to Athena, Montgomery plunges her arms into the icy water to make contact, and is thrilled when her new cephalopod friend firmly grasps her, tasting her skin with some of her 1,600 sensitive and powerful suckers. Montgomery also gets to know Octavia, Kali, and Karma, stroking their soft heads and observing their many moods and activities, appreciating each distinctively intelligent, willful, inquisitive, mischievous, and affectionate personality. She also learns to scuba dive to observe octopuses in the wild. In prose as gripping and entwining as her subjects' many arms, Montgomery chronicles the octopus' phenomenal strength, dexterity, speed, weaponry, and lightning-quick shape-shifting and camouflage abilities. She also tells funny and moving stories about her friendships with the dedicated aquarists and volunteers (most notably Anna, a valiant young woman with Asperger's syndrome) who care for the cephalopods with infinite respect and tenderness. Montgomery's uniquely intimate portrait of the elusive octopus profoundly recalibrates our perception of consciousness, communication, and community.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The ever-curious Montgomery (author of Temple Grandin), a naturalist who writes books for children and adults alike, sets out on a quest to learn what it's like to be an octopus after she meets an octopus named Athena at the New England Aquarium. Upon introduction, the young octopus reached her tentacles out to her new acquaintance, winning over the immediately fascinated Montgomery. The pair developed a relationship that Montgomery charts as she relates her frequent visits to Athena. Athena's sudden death plunged Montgomery into a deep grief, but she returned to the aquarium to meet Octavia, the first in a series of octopuses-followed by Kali and Karma-that reveal to Montgomery just how brilliant these cephalopods can be. She reveals that octopuses often get bored, requiring diversions and toys to keep them occupied; that they change colors to show anger, hunger, annoyance, and pleasure; and that they are not always motivated by hunger, but often crave attention once they receive it from humans. Montgomery's deep love of these creatures often causes her to excessively anthropomorphize them, but her depictions of her intimate experiences with her cephalopod friends ring true, allowing readers to see them in an entirely new light. Agent: Sarah Jane Freymann, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."

Additional Information
Subjects Octopuses -- Behavior.
Human-animal communication.
Human-animal relationships.
Animal communication.
Publisher New York :2015.
Edition First Atria Books hardcover edition.
Language English
Description 261 pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-252) and index.
ISBN 9781451697711
1451697716
Other Classic View