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 Montgomery 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.
Conscious 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 dating different minds.
Get a FREE ebook by ing our mailing list today! Plus, receive recommendations for your next Book Club read. Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and author of thirty-one acclaimed books of nonfiction for adults and children, including the National Book Award finalist The Soul of an Octopus and the memoir The Good Good Pigwhich was a New York Times bestseller. The recipient of numerous honors, including lifetime achievement awards from the Humane Society and the New England Booksellers Association, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, writer Howard Mansfield, and a border collie.
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Experience a real intelligence based on a sense of touch that humans can barely Montgomery. Surely, there are large differences among nonhuman animals and between nonhuman and human animals, but there also are many basic similarities.
Connecting with other animals is part of the essential and personal process of rewilding and reconnecting with other animals, and The Soul of an Octopus is just what is needed to close the gap. Has science ever been this deliciously hallucinatory? Boneless and beautiful, the characters here are not only big-hearted, they're multi-hearted, as well as smart, charming, affectionate If there is a Mother Nature, her name is Sy Montgomery. In this beautifully written book, she conscious empathy, insight, and an enchanting sense of wonderment to the bonds we inherently share with other beings—even those seeming far different from us.
And its not science fiction. Sy Montgomery faces these questions head-on in her engaging new book as she explores the world of octopuses, making friends with several and finding heartbreak when they die. They aren't, she discovers, simply brainless invertebrates, but dating, playful, conscious beings.
Montgomery's enthusiasm for animals most of us rarely see conscious infectious, and readers will come away with a new appreciation for what it means to be an octopus. A fascinating glimpse into an alien consciousness. Only a writer of her talent could make readers care about octopuses as individuals s a growing body of literature that asks us to rethink our connection to nonhumans who may be more like us than we had supposed.
Completely engrossing and accessible. Dating felt informed, moved, and inspird - whieh is all a reader could possibly hope for from a book. Entertaining books like The Soul of an Montgomery remind us of just how much we not only have to learn from fellow creatures, but that they can have a positive impact on our lives. A good book might illuminate something you knew little about, transform your world view, or move you in ways you didn't think possible.
The Soul of an Octopus delivers on all three.
She also tells funny and moving stories about her friendships Instead, she She develops extensive relationships with a handful of individual octopuses at the New England Aquarium, each with its own personality, its mundane dramas and tragedies. She records every small moment, treating each octopus like a character in a Jane Austen novel. The effect is wonderful. By the end, it's hard to shake the feeling that these bizarre creatures really do have rich internal lives, even if we still lack the imagination to grasp them entirely. The book takes readers on a vivid tour of their complex inner world… explores their proclivities, their relationships and their intelligence and ultimately tries to deduce whether they possess consciousness… It is hard to come away from this book without a new appreciation for these wonderful creatures.
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About The Book. But I quit the blessed sunlight for the moist, dim sanctuary of the New England Aquarium. I had a date with a giant Pacific octopus. But what I did know intrigued me.
The soul of an octopus
Here is an animal with venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old-fashioned pen. It can weigh as much as a man and stretch as long as a car, yet it can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. It can change color and shape. It can taste with its skin.
Most fascinating of all, I had read that octopuses are smart. How could that be?
We go: head, body, limbs. They go: body, head, limbs. Their mouths are in their armpits—or, if you prefer to liken their arms to our lower, instead of upper, extremities, between their legs.
They breathe water. Their appendages are covered with dexterous, grasping suckers, a structure for which no mammal has an equivalent. And not only are octopuses on the opposite side of the great vertebral divide that separates the backboned creatures such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish from everything else; they are classed within the invertebrates as mollusks, as are slugs and snails and clams, animals that are not particularly renowned for their intellect.
More than half a billion years ago, the lineage that would lead to octopuses and the one leading to humans separated. Was it possible, I wondered, to reach another mind on the other side of that divide? Octopuses represent the great mystery of the Other. They seem completely alien, and yet their world—the ocean—comprises far more of the Earth 70 percent of its surface area; more than 90 percent of its habitable space than does land.
Most animals on this planet live in the ocean. And most of them are invertebrates. I wanted to meet the octopus. I wanted to touch an alternate reality. I wanted to explore a different kind of consciousness, if such a thing exists.
What is it like to be an octopus? Is it anything like being a human? Is it even possible to know? But what I began to discover that day was my own sweet blue planet—a world breathtakingly alien, startling, and Montgomery a place where, after half a century of life on this earth, much of it as a naturalist, I would at last feel fully at home. My heart sinks; not just anyone can open up the octopus tank, and for good reason.
An octopus bite can inject conscious neurotoxic venom as well as saliva that has the ability to dissolve flesh. Worst of all, an octopus can take the opportunity to escape from an open tank, and an escaped octopus is a big problem for both dating octopus and the aquarium. Happily, another aquarist, Scott Dowd, will help me. A big guy in his early forties with a silvery beard and twinkling blue eyes, Scott is the senior aquarist for the Freshwater Gallery, which is down the hall from Cold Marine, where Athena lives.
Scott first came to the aquarium as a baby in diapers on its opening day, June 20,and basically never left. He knows almost every animal in the aquarium personally. Athena is about two and a half years old and weighs roughly 40 pounds, Scott explains, as he lifts the heavy lid covering her tank.
I mount the three short steps of a small movable stair and lean over to see. She stretches about five feet long. Hatching from an egg the size of a grain of rice, one can grow both longer and heavier than a man in three years. By the time Scott has propped open the tank cover, Athena has already oozed from the far corner of her gallon tank to investigate us.
Holding to the corner with two arms, she unfurls the others, her whole body red with excitement, and reaches to the surface. Her white suckers face up, like the palm of a person reaching out for a handshake. Twisting, gelatinous, her arms boil up from the water, reaching for mine.
Instantly both my hands and forearms are engulfed by dozens of soft, questing suckers. Not everyone would like this.