I haven’t finished it yet, but since I’m half-way through, I think I can already vouch for Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus. I’m sure somebody else at KPL recommended the book when it first came out in 2015, but I’d still like to put in my two cents.
In The Soul of an Octopus, the animal loving author researches the misunderstood octopus by visiting the New England Aquarium, located in downtown Boston, and speaking with the professionals there. She also observes and interacts with the resident octopuses, developing a strong emotional connection to each one. As she narrates her experiences at the aquarium, Montgomery teaches us a lot about these cephalopods’ intelligence, personalities, and unique abilities. She wants to know how these highly specialized organisms live and think, and she wants her readers to appreciate them for how amazing they are rather than simply dismissing them as monsters of the sea. I’ve been jotting down some of my favorite facts while reading. Here are a few:
-There are around 250 species of octopus and the giant Pacific octopus is the largest (p. 3).
-Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood (due to copper carrying the oxygen through their blood rather than iron, like in humans) (p. 13).
-Each octopus knows 30-50 camouflage patterns, including patterns that appear to move over the animal’s skin (p. 45).
-Each eye can move independently (p. 50).
Montgomery shares these facts about octopuses as she tells the stories of her new human and marine friends at the aquarium. In order to discover more, you’ll have to read it for yourself. The only aspect of the book I have not enjoyed has been Montgomery’s intense emotions about the octopuses she meets. For me, her personal experience comes on too strong at times and dilutes the purpose of the book. But you may feel differently when you read it. Give it a try!