↔ Free Format Kindle Download [ ⇬ The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (English Edition) eBook: Sy Montgomery: Amazon.fr: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. ] ← By Sy Montgomery ❖ The Soul of an Octopus CHAPTER ONE Athena Encountering the Mind of a Mollusk On a rare, warm day in mid March, when the snow was melting into mud in New Hampshire, I traveled to Boston, where everyone was strolling along the harbor or sitting on benches licking ice cream cones 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 I knew little about octopusesnot even that the scientifically correct plural is not octopi, as I had always believed it turns out you cant put a Latin endingion a word derived from Greek, such as octopus But what I did know intrigued me 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 This bore out what scant experience I had already had like many who visit octopuses in public aquariums, Ive often had the feeling that the octopus I was watching was watching me back, with an interest as keen as my own How could that be Its hard to find an animal unlike a human than an octopus Their bodies arent organized like ours We go head, body, limbs They go body, head, limbs Their mouths are in their armpitsor, 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 Clams dont even have brains 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 worldthe oceancomprises far of the Earth 70 percent of its surface area 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 So when the aquariums director of public relations met me in the lobby and offered to introduce me to Athena, the octopus, I felt like a privileged visitor to another world But what I began to discover that day was my own sweet blue planeta world breathtakingly alien, startling, and wondrous 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 Athenas lead keeper isnt in My heart sinks not just anyone can open up the octopus tank, and for good reason A giant Pacific octopusthe largest of the worlds 250 or so octopus speciescan easily overpower a person Just one of a big males three inch diameter suckers can lift 30 pounds, and a giant Pacific octopus has 1,600 of them An octopus bite can inject a 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 the 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, 1969, 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 Her headby head, I mean both the actual head and the mantle, or body, because thats where we mammals expect an animals head to beis about the size of a small watermelon Or at least a honeydew, says Scott When she first came, it was the size of a grapefruit The giant Pacific octopus is one of the fastest growing animals on the planet 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 560 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 May I touch her I ask Scott Sure, he says I take off my wristwatch, remove my scarf, roll up my sleeves, and plunge both arms elbow deep into the shockingly cold 47F water 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 The naturalist and explorer William Beebe found the touch of the octopus repulsive I have always a struggle before I can make my hands do their duty and seize a tentacle, he confessed Victor Hugo imagined such an event as an unmitigated horror leading to certain doom The spectre lies upon you the tiger can only devour you the devil fish, horrible, sucks your life blood away, Hugo wrote in Toilers of the Sea The muscles swell, the fibres of the body are contorted, the skin cracks under the loathsome oppression, the blood spurts out and mingles horribly with the lymph of the monster, which clings to the victim with innumerable hideous mouths Fear of the octopus lies deep in the human psyche No animal is savage in causing the death of man in the water, Pliny the Elder wrote in Naturalis Historia, circa AD 79, for it struggles with him by coiling round him and it swallows him with sucker cups and drags him asunder But Athenas suction is gentle, though insistent It pulls me like an aliens kiss Her melon size head bobs to the surface, and her left eyeoctopuses have a dominant eye, as people have dominant handsswivels in its socket to meet mine Her black pupil is a fat hyphen in a pearly globe Its expression reminds me of the look in the eyes of paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses serene, all knowing, heavy with wisdom stretching back beyond time Shes looking right at you, Scott says As I hold her glittering gaze, I instinctively reach to touch her head As supple as leather, as tough as steel, as cold as night, Hugo wrote of the octopuss flesh but to my surprise, her head is silky and softer than custard Her skin is flecked with ruby and silver, a night sky reflected on the wine dark sea As I stroke her with my fingertips, her skin goes white beneath my touch White is the color of a relaxed octopus in cuttlefish, close relatives of octopus, females turn white when they encounter a fellow female, someone whom they need not fight or flee It is possible that Athena, in fact, knows I am female Female octopuses, like female humans, possess estrogen she could be tasting and recognizing mine Octopuses can taste with their entire bodies, but this sense is most exquisitely developed in their suckers Athenas is an exceptionally intimate embrace She is at once touching and tasting my skin, and possibly the muscle, bone, and blood beneath Though we have only just met, Athena already knows me in a way no being has known me before And she seems as curious about me as I am about her Slowly, she transfers her grip on me from the smaller, outer suckers at the tips of her arms to the larger, stronger ones nearer her head I am now bent at a 90 degree angle, folded like a half open book, as I stand on the little step stool I realize what is happening She is pulling me steadily into her tank How happily I would go with her, but alas, I would not fit Her lair is beneath a rocky overhang, into which she can flow like water, but I cannot, constrained as I am by bones and joints The water in her tank would come to chest height on me, if I were standing up but the way she is pulling me, I would be upside down, headfirst in the water, and soon facing the limitations of my air hungry lungs I ask Scott if I should try to detach from her grip and he gently pulls us apart, her suckers making popping sounds like small plungers as my skin is released Octopus Arent they monsters my friend Jody Simpson asked me in alarm, as we hiked with our dogs the next day Werent you scared Her question reflected less an ignorance of the natural world than a wide knowledge of Western culture A horror of giant octopuses and their kin, giant squid, has animated Western art forms from thirteenth century Icelandic legends to twentieth century American films The massive hafgufa who swallows men and ships and whales and everything it can reach in the Old Icelandic saga Orvar Odds is surely based on some kind of tentacled mollusk, and gave rise to the myth of the kraken French sailors reports of giant octopuses attacking their ship off the coast of Angola inspired one of the most lasting images of octopus in modern memory, one that is still tattooed on sailors arms Mollusk expert Pierre Denys de Montforts iconic pen and wash drawing of 1801 shows a giant octopus rising from the ocean, its arms twisting in great loops all the way to the top of a schooners three masts He claimed the existence of at least two kinds of giant octopus, one of which, he concluded, was surely responsible for the disappearance of no fewer than ten British warships that mysteriously vanished one night in 1782 To Montforts public embarrassment, a survivor later revealed that they were really lost in a hurricane In 1830, Alfred Tennyson published a sonnet about a monstrous octopus whose Unnumberd and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green And of course an octopus was the nemesis star of Jules Vernes 1870 French science fiction novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Though the octopus becomes a giant squid in the 1954 film of the same name, the man who shot the underwater sequences for the original film in 1916, John Williamson, said this about the novels original villain A man eating shark, a giant poison fanged moray, a murderous barracuda, appear harmless, innocent, friendly and even attractive when compared to the octopus No words can adequately describe the sickening horror one feels when from some dark mysterious lair, the great lidless eyes of the octopus stare at one Ones very soul seems to shrink beneath their gaze, and cold perspiration beads the brow Eager to defend the octopus against centuries of character assassination, I replied to my friend, Monsters Not at all Dictionary definitions of monster always mention the words large, ugly, and frightening To me, Athena was as beautiful and benign as an angel Even large is up for debate where octopuses are concerned The largest species, the giant Pacific, isnt as big as it used to be An octopus with an arm span of than 150 feet may have once existed But the largest octopus listed by The Guinness Book of Records weighed 300 pounds and boasted an arm span stretching 32 feet In 1945, a much heavier octopus captured off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, was reported to weigh 402 pounds disappointingly, a photo of this animal displayed with a man for size comparison suggests a radial span of only 20 to 22 feet But even these modern giants hardly measure up to their close molluscan relative, the colossal squid A recent specimen of this species, captured by a New Zealand boat fishing off Antarctica, weighed than 1,000 pounds and stretched than 30 feet long These days, lovers of monsters lament that the biggest octopuses seem to have been captured than half a century ago As I described Athenas grace, her gentleness, her apparent friendliness, Jody was skeptical A huge, slimy cephalopod covered with suckers qualified as a monster in her book Well, I conceded, changing tacks, being a monster is not necessarily a bad thing Ive always harbored a fondness for monsters Even as a child, I had rooted for Godzilla and King Kong instead of for the people trying to kill them It had seemed to me that these monsters irritation was perfectly reasonable Nobody likes to be awakened from slumber by a nuclear explosion, so it was no wonder to me Godzilla was crabby as for King Kong, few men would blame him for his attraction to pretty Fay Wray Though her screaming would have eventually put off anyone less patient than a gorilla If you took the monsters point of view, everything they did made perfect sense The trick was learning to think like a monster After our embrace, Athena had floated back to her lair I staggered down the three stairs of the step stool I stood for a moment, almost dizzy, and caught my breath The only word I could manage was wow The way she presented her head to you was unusual, said Scott I was surprised He told me that the last two octopuses who lived here, Truman and, before him, George, would only offer their arms to a visitornot the head Athenas behavior was particularly surprising given her personality Truman and George were laid back octopuses, but Athena had earned her name, that of the Greek goddess of war and strategy She was a particularly feisty octopus very active, and prone to excitement, which she showed by turning her skin bumpy and red Octopuses are highly individual This is often reflected in the names keepers give them At the Seattle Aquarium, one giant Pacific octopus was named Emily Dickinson because she was so shy that she spent her days hiding behind her tanks backdrop the public almost never saw her Eventually she was released into Puget Sound, where she had originally been caught Another was named Leisure Suit Larrythe minute a keeper peeled one of his questing arms off his or her body, two would attach in its place A third octopus earned the name Lucretia McEvil, because she constantly dismantled everything in her tank Octopuses realize that humans are individuals too They like some people they dislike others And they behave differently toward those they know and trust Though a bit leery of visitors, George had been relaxed and friendly with his keeper, senior aquarist Bill Murphy Before I came, I had watched a video of the two of them together that the aquarium had posted on YouTube in 2007 George was floating at the top of the tank, gently tasting Bill with his suckers, as the tall, lanky aquarist bent down to pet and scratch him I consider him to be a friend, Bill told the cameraman as he ran his fingers over Georges head, because Ive spent a lot of time interacting with him, taking care of him, and seeing him every day Some people find them very creepy and slimy, he said, but I enjoy it a lot In some ways theyre just like a dog I actually pet his head or scratch his forehead He loves it It doesnt take long for an octopus to figure out who his friends are In one study, Seattle Aquarium biologist Roland Anderson exposed eight giant Pacific octopuses to two unfamiliar humans, dressed identically in blue aquarium uniforms One person consistently fed a particular octopus, and another always touched it with a bristly stick Within a week, at first sight of the peoplelooking up at them through the water, without even touching or tasting themmost of the octopuses moved toward the feeder and away from the irritator Sometimes the octopus would aim its water shooting funnel, the siphon near the side of the head with which an octopus jets through the sea, at the person who had touched it with the bristly stick Occasionally an octopus takes a dislike to a particular person At the Seattle Aquarium, when one biologist would check on a normally friendly octopus each night, she would be greeted by a blast of painfully cold salt water shot from the funnel The octopus hosed her and only her Wild octopuses use their funnels not only for propulsion but also to repel things they dont like, just as you might use a snowblower to clear a sidewalk Possibly the octopus was irritated by the night biologists flashlight One volunteer at the New England Aquarium always got this same treatment from Truman, who would shoot a soaking stream of salt water at her every time he saw her Later, the volunteer left her position at the aquarium for college Months later, she returned for a visit Trumanwho hadnt squirted anyone in the meantimeinstantly soaked her again The idea of octopuses with thoughts, feelings, and personalities disturbs some scientists and philosophers Only recently have many researchers accorded even chimpanzees, so closely related to humans we can share blood transfusions, the dignity of a mind The idea set forth by French philosopher Ren Descartes in 1637, that only people think and therefore, only people exist in the moral universeJe pense, donc je suis is still so pervasive in modern science that even Jane Goodall, one of the most widely recognized scientists in the world, was too intimidated to publish some of her most intriguing observations of wild chimpanzees for twenty years From her extensive studies at Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania, she had many times observed wild chimpanzees purposely deceiving one another, for example stifling a food cry to keep others from discovering some fruit Her long delay in writing of it stemmed from a fear that other scientists would accuse her of anthropomorphizingprojecting human feelings ontoher study subjects, a cardinal sin in animal science I have spoken with other researchers at Gombe who still havent published some of their findings from the 1970s, fearing their scientific colleagues would never believe them Theres always an effort to minimize emotion and intelligence in other species, the New England Aquariums director of public relations, Tony LaCasse, said after I met Athena The prejudice is particularly strong against fish and invertebrates, agreed Scott We followed the ramp that spirals around the Giant Ocean Tank, affectionately known as the GOT, the three story, 200,000 gallon re creation of a Caribbean reef community that is the central pillar of the aquarium Sharks, rays, turtles, and schools of tropical fish floated by like daydreams as we broke the scientific taboo and spoke of minds that many deny exist Scott remembered an octopus whose sneaky depredations rivaled those of Goodalls deceitful chimps There was a tank of special flounder about fifteen feet away from the octopus tank, he said The fish were part of a study But to the researchers dismay, the flounder started disappearing, one by one One day they caught the culprit red handed The octopus had been slipping out of her tank and eating the flounder When the octopus was discovered, Scott said, she gave a guilty, sideways look and slithered away Tony told me about Bimini, a large female nurse shark who once lived in the Giant Ocean Tank One day the shark attacked one of the spotted eels in the tank and was swimming around with her victims tail protruding from her mouth One of the divers who knew Bimini well wagged his finger at her, and then bopped her on the nose, Tony told me In response, Bimini instantly regurgitated the eel Though the eel was whisked to the on site veterinarian for emergency treatment, he unfortunately could not be saved Once a similar thing had happened with our border collie, Sally She had come upon a dead deer in the woods and was feeding on it When I growled, Drop it she actually vomited it up for me I had always been proud of her obedience But a shark The sharks dont eat all the fish in the tank, because theyre well fed But sometimes they will eat or injure other animals for other reasons besides hunger, Scott told me One day, a group of permitslong, thin, shiny fish whose dorsal fins are shaped like scytheswere thrashing around near the surface of the Giant Ocean Tank They were making a lot of noise and commotion, Tony said One of the sand tiger sharks shot to the surface to attack the fish, biting their finsbut not killing or eating them Apparently, the shark was just irritated This was a dominance bite, not a predator bite, Tony said To many, we spoke heresy Skeptics are right to point out that its easy to misunderstand animals, even those most like ourselves Years ago, when I was visiting Birute Galdikass research camp in Borneo, where ex captive orangutans were learning to live in the wild, a new American volunteer, smitten with the shaggy orange apes, rushed up to an adult female to give her a hug The female picked up the volunteer and slammed her against the ground The woman didnt realize that the orangutan didnt feel like being grabbed by a stranger Its alluring to assume that animals feel as we do, especially when we want them to like us A friend who works with elephants told me of a woman who called herself an animal communicator, who was visiting an aggressive elephant at a zoo After her telepathic conversation with the elephant, the communicator told the keeper, Oh, that elephant really likes me He wants to put his head in my lap What was most interesting about this interaction was the part the communicator may have gotten right Elephants do sometimes put their heads in the laps of people They do this to kill them They crush people with their foreheads like you would grind out a cigarette butt with your shoe The early twentieth century Austrian British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once famously wrote, If a lion could talk, we couldnt understand him With an octopus, the opportunity for misunderstanding is greatly magnified A lion is a mammal like us an octopus is put together completely differently, with three hearts, a brain that wraps around its throat, and a covering of slime instead of hair Even their blood is a different color from ours its blue, because copper, not iron, carries its oxygen In his classic The Outermost House, American naturalist Henry Beston writes that animals are not brethren, they are not underlings but beings gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear They are, he writes, other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth To many people, an octopus is not just another nation its an alien from a distant and menacing galaxy But to me, Athena was than an octopus She was an individualwho I liked very muchand also, possibly, a portal She was leading me to a new way of thinking about thinking, of imagining what other minds might be like And she was enticing me to explore, in a way I never had before, my own planeta world of mostly water, which I hardly knew Back at home, I tried to replay my interaction with Athena in my mind It was difficult There was so much of her, everywhere I could not keep track of her gelatinous body and its eight floaty, rubbery arms I could not keep track of her continually changing color, shape, or texture One moment, shed be bright red and bumpy, and the next, shed be smoother and veined with dark brown or white Patches on different parts of her body would change color so fastin less than a secondthat by the time I registered the last change, she would be on to another To borrow a phrase from songwriter John Denver, she filled up my senses Unconstrained by joints, her arms were constantly questing, coiling, stretching, reaching, unfurling, all in different directions at once Each arm seemed like a separate creature, with a mind of its own In fact, this is almost literally true Three fifths of octopuses neurons are not in the brain but in the arms If an arm is severed from an octopuss body, the arm will often carry on as if nothing has happened for several hours One presumes the severed arm might continue hunting and perhaps even catching preyonly to pass it back toward a mouth to which the arm is, sadly, no longer attached Just one of Athenas suckers was enough to seize my complete concentrationand she had 1,600 of them Each was busily multitasking sucking, tasting, grabbing, holding, plucking, releasing Each arm on a giant Pacific octopus has two rows of suckers, the smallest at the tips, the largest three inches across on a big male, perhaps two on Athena about a third of the way to the mouth Each sucker has two chambers The outer one is shaped like a broad suction cup, with hundreds of fine radial ridges stretching to the rim The inner chamber is a little hole in the center of the sucker, which creates the suction force The whole structure can bend to fit the contours of whatever the sucker is grasping Each sucker can even fold to create a pincer grip, like your thumb and forefinger can Each is operated by individual nerves that the octopus controls voluntarily and independently And each sucker is fantastically strong James Wood, webmaster of the long running biological website The Cephalopod Page, has calculated that a 2.5 inch diameter sucker can lift 35 pounds of weight If all the suckers were that size, the octopus would have a sucking capacity of 56,000 pounds Another scientist calculated that to break the hold of the much smaller common octopus would demand a quarter ton of force Divers, Wood said, should be very careful Athenas suction had been tender with my skin Since I was not afraid, I had not resisted her pull This was fortunate, I learned when I later spoke with her keeper, Bill, on the phone, setting up my next visit A lot of people are freaked out by them, he told me When visitors come, we always have someone there to help in case the person freaks out Keeping the octopus in the tank is the main goal We cant guarantee what theyll do With Athena, Ive had four of her arms on me, and you peel them off and then the other four arms are on I think weve all been on dates like that, I observed While Athena was tasting my arms and hands, she had made a point of looking into my face I was impressed that she even recognized a face so unlike her own, and wondered whether Athena might like to taste my face as well as look at it I asked Bill if that was ever allowed No, he said emphatically, we dont let them near the face Why Could she pull out an eye Yes, Bill said, she could Bill has gotten into futile tugs of war with octopuses who have grabbed the handles of cleaning brushes The octopus always wins You have to know what youre doing, he said You cannot let her go near your face I felt as if she wanted to pull me into the tank, I told him She could pull you into the tank, yes, he said She will try I was eager to give her another chance We set a date for a Tuesday, when both Bill and his most experienced octopus volunteer, Wilson Menashi, would be there Scott, and now Bill, told me the same thing about Wilson He has a real way with octopuses Wilson is a former engineer and inventor with the Arthur D Little Corp with many patents to his name Among his other accomplishments is having brought cubic zirconia to market as an imitation diamond It had been artificially produced by the French, but they didnt know what to do with it At the aquarium, Wilson had been tasked with an important mission designing interesting toys to keep the intelligent octopus occupied If they have nothing to do, they become bored, Bill explained And boring your octopus is not only cruel its a hazard I knew from living with two border collies and a 750 pound pet pig that to allow a smart animal to become bored is to court disaster They will invariably come up with something creative to do with their time that you dont want them to do, as the Seattle Aquarium had discovered with Lucretia McEvil In Santa Monica, a small California two spot octopus, only perhaps eight inches long, managed to flood the aquariums offices with hundreds of gallons of water by experimenting with a valve in her tank, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage by ruining the brand new, ecologically designed floors Another danger of boredom is that your octopus may try to go someplace interesting They are Houdini like in their ability to escape their enclosures L R Brightwell of the Marine Biological Station in Plymouth, UK, once encountered an octopus crawling down the stairs at two thirty in the morning It had escaped from its tank in the stations laboratory While on a trawler in the English Channel, an octopus who had been caught and left on deck somehow managed to slither from the deck, down the companionway, to the cabin Hours later, it was found hiding in a teapot Another octopus, held in a small private aquarium in Bermuda, pushed off the lid from its tank, slid to the floor, crawled off a veranda, and headed home to the sea The animal had traveled about 100 feet before it collapsed on the lawn, where it was attacked by a horde of ants and died Perhaps an even surprising case was reported in June 2012, when a security officer at Californias Monterey Bay Aquarium found a banana peel on the floor in front of the Shale Reef exhibit at 3 a.m On closer inspection, the banana peel turned out to be a healthy, fist size red octopus The security officer followed the wet slime trail and replaced the octopus in the exhibit it had come from But heres the shocking part The aquarium didnt know it had a red octopus living in its Shale Reef exhibit Apparently the octopus hitchhiked there as a juvenile, attached to a rock or sponge added to the exhibit, and grew up at the aquarium without anyone knowing it was there To avert disaster, aquarium staff carefully design escape proof lids to their octopus tanks and try to invent ways to keep their octopuses occupied In 2007, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo put together an enrichment handbook for octopus, filled with ideas of how to keep these smart creatures entertained Some aquariums hide food inside a Mr Potato Head and let the octopus dismantle the toy Others offer Legos Oregon State Universitys Hatfield Marine Science Center has devised a contraption that allows an octopus to create art by moving levers that release paint onto a canvaswhich is then auctioned to generate funds to maintain the octopus tank At the Seattle Aquarium, Sammy the giant Pacific octopus enjoyed playing with a baseball size plastic ball that could be screwed together by twisting the two halves A staffer put food inside the ball but later was surprised to find that not only had the octopus opened the ball, it had screwed it back together when it was done Another toy was constructed from the plastic tubing through which pet gerbils like to tunnel Rather than probe into the tunnel with his arms, which was what the aquarists had expected, Sammy liked to unscrew the piecesand when he was done, he handed them off to his tank mate, an anemone The anemone, who, like all of its kind, was brainless, held on to the pieces with its tentacles for a while, bringing them to its mouth, and finally spat them out But Wilson was ahead of the curve Long before the first octopus enrichment handbook was published, many octopuses ago, he set out to create a safe toy worthy of an octopuss intellect Working at his lab at Arthur D Little Corp., Wilson devised a series of three clear Plexiglas cubes with different locks The smallest of the three has a sliding latch that twists to lock down, like the bolt on a horses stall You can put a live craba favorite foodinside and leave the lid unlocked The octopus will lift the lid When you lock the lid, invariably the octopus will figure out how to open it Then its time to deploy the second cube This one has a latch that slides counterclockwise to catch on a bracket You put the crab in the first box and then lock it inside the second box The octopus will figure it out And finally, theres a third cube This one has two different latches a bolt that slides into position to lock down, and a second one with a lever arm, sealing the lid much like an old fashioned canning jar closes Bill told me that once the octopus gets it, the animal can open all four locks in three or four minutes I was looking forward to meeting Bill and Wilson, and was hungry to hear what they had to tell me But even , I longed to see Athena again and to learn how she behaved among people she knew And I wondered Would she recognize me Bill meets me in the aquarium lobby Hes thirty two years old, six foot five, slender, and strong, with short brown hair and a smile that takes over his whole face, crinkling the edges of his eyes Tentacles creep down from under the right sleeve of his green aquarium shirtthe tattoo of a Portuguese man of war, a stinging jellyfish, with an azure sail We walk up the staircase to the aquarium caf, and then take the Employees Only stairway to the Cold Marine Gallery, which Bill runs Hes in charge of 15,000 animals here, from invertebrates like Athena and the sea stars and anemones, to giant lobsters and endangered turtles and the strange, ancient chimera, or ghost sharka deepwater species with grinding, instead of sharp, teeth, whose cartilaginous kind branched off from the shark lineage 400 million years ago Bill knows each of his charges personally he has known many of them since they were born or hatched, or budded under his care many others, he collected on expeditions to the chilly waters of Maine and the Pacific Northwest Wilson is already here Hes a much smaller man than Bill, trim and quiet, with a dark moustache, the hairline of a grandfather of nearly grown grandchildren, and a Middle Eastern accent I cant quite place He looks much younger than his seventy eight years Its nearly 11 a.m., Athenas feeding time A dish of silvery, five inch capelin awaits her, sitting on the lid of an adjoining tank We dont want to keep her waiting The men heave the heavy tank top up and attach it to an overhead hook to keep it propped open The lid is covered in fine mesh and precisely contoured to fit the elaborate curves of the tanks outlines, a precaution perfected over the course of many octopuses, to prevent escape Bill leaves me with Wilson to attend to other chores in his gallery Wilson mounts the short movable stair and leans over the tank Athena rises up from her lair like steam from a pot Shes coming to Wilson so quickly it takes my breath awaymuch faster than she had come to see me earlier She knows me, Wilson states simply He reaches into the cold water to greet her Athenas white suckers arch from the water to grasp Wilsons hands and forearms She looks at him with her silvery eye, then surprises me She flips over, like a puppy showing its belly Wilson hands a fish to the center suckers on one of her front arms The food heads toward her mouth like on a conveyor belt as she passes it from sucker to sucker Im eager to see inside her mouth, glimpse her beak But I am disappointed The fish disappears like the stairs at the end of an escalator Wilson says hes never known an octopus to show its beak Only now do I notice that a large orange sunflower sea star is moving toward Wilsons hand With than twenty limbs, called rays, befitting a star, and an arm span of than two feet, its edging toward us on 15,000 tube feet Like all sea stars, this largest of all the species has no eyes, no face, and no brain As an embryo, the sea star starts to grow one, but apparently thinks better of it and instead forms a neural net around the mouth He wants a fish too, Wilson says This sea star is, in fact, male, as became evident when he released his sperm one day, clouding the tank Wilson hands him a capelin with the same easy motion with which one might pass the butter dish to a guest at the dinner table How can a brainless animal want anythingmuch less communicate its desires to another species Perhaps Athena knows To her, the sea star may be a distinct individual, a neighbor whose habits and quirks she recognizes and anticipates At the Hatfield Marine Science Centers Visitor Center, when the octopus was done playing with Mr Potato Head, the sea star would take the eyes and carry them around between two of his arms He looked really cute, Kristen Simmons, who invented the painting apparatus for the octopus, told me She described their sea star as inquisitive and told me that whenever the octopus gets a new toy, the sea star tries to take it away from himwhich I find amazing If a staffer moved a toy away from this sea star, the animal would hurry to retrieve it I wonder Can a brainless animal feel curiosity Does it want to play Or does it only want toys or food the way a plant wants the sun Does a sea star experience consciousness If it does, what does consciousness feel like to a sea star Clearly, I have entered a world I cannot judge by the rules I have learned on land among vertebrates The sea star begins to dissolve the fish before our eyes, the capelin melting away as though viewed via time lapse photography The sea star can extrude its stomach outside the mouth to digest prey, which is usually sea urchins, snails, sea cucumbers, and other sea stars The sea star sated, Wilson turns back to Athena and feeds her the rest of the fish He hands her one fish after another, three in all He deposits each in the suckers of a different arm I watch in astonishment as the octopus conveys each fish along her suckers, toward her mouth It seems to take a long time before each fish reaches its destination Why doesnt she just flex the arm and place the fish directly in her mouth Then it occurs to me Perhaps its for the same reason we lick an ice cream cone instead of shoving it past the tongue down the throat Taste is pleasurable, and its pleasurable because its useful this is how we know what is good and safe to eat and what is inedible An octopus does the same with its suckers Once Athena finishes eating her fish, she plays gently with Wilsons hands and forearms Occasionally the tendril like tip of an arm curls up to his elbow, but almost lazily mostly her arms twist weightlessly in the water, her suckers gently kissing his skin With me, before, her suction had felt exploratory, insistent But with Wilson she is completely relaxed As I look at the man and the octopus touching each other, they remind me of a happy older couple, many years into a loving marriage, tenderly holding hands I put my hands in the water with Wilsons and touch one of Athenas unoccupied arms I slowly stroke some of her suckers They fold to fit the contours of my skin and latch on I cant tell if she recognizes me Though I am sure she can taste I am a different person, Athena seems to consider me a part of Wilson, the way a person might behave toward a companion that a trusted friend has brought along Athena latches onto my skin slowly, languidly, the same way she did greeting Wilson I lean over to glimpse her pearly eye, and she pulls her head to the surface to look me in the face She has eyelids like a person does, says Wilson He gently passes his hand over her eyes, causing her to slowly wink She doesnt recoil or move away The fish are gone she is staying near the surface for the company Shes a very gentle octopus, Wilson says, almost dreamily, very gentle Has working with octopuses made him gentler or compassionate Wilson pauses I dont have the language to answer that question, he says Wilson was born along the Caspian Sea, in Iran, near Russia, and spoke Arabic before he learned English as a small child because his parents were from Iraq He doesnt mean that he lacks the English skills to answer He means that he hasnt thought of this before Ive always liked toddlers and kids, he says I can relate to them This is similar As with a child, to commune with Athena demands a level of openness and intuition greater than that used in the usual discourse between adult humans of a common culture But Wilson doesnt equate this strong, smart, wild caught adult octopus to a baby humanunfinished, incomplete, not quite fully developed Athena is, in the words of the late, great Canadian storyteller Farley Mowat, than human, a being who doesnt need us to bring her to completion The wonder is that she will allow us to be part of her world Dont you feel honored I ask Wilson Yes, he says emphatically Yes Bill, rejoining us from his errands, leans his tall frame over the tank and reaches in to stroke Athenas head Its a rare pleasure, Bill says Not everyone can do this How long did we stay with Athena Its impossible to say Of course, we had removed our watches before plunging our arms into the water Once we did, we entered what we called Octopus Time Feelings of awe are known to expand the human experience of time availability So does flow, the state of being fully immersed in focus, involvement, and enjoyment Meditation and prayer, too, alter time perception And there is another way we alter our experience of time We as well as other animals can mimic anothers emotional state This involves mirror neuronsa type of brain cell that responds equally whether were watching another perform an action, or whether were performing that action ourselves If you are with, for example, a calm, deliberate person, your own perception of time may begin to match his Perhaps, as we stroked her in the water, we entered into Athenas experience of timeliquid, slippery, and ancient, flowing at a different pace than any clock I could stay here forever, filling my senses with Athenas strangeness and beauty, talking with my new friends Except our hands frozeso red and stiff that we could not move our fingers Taking our hands out of Athenas tank felt like breaking a spell I was suddenly desperately uncomfortable, awkward, and incompetent Even after rinsing my red skin with hot water for nearly a minute, I was so cold I still couldnt pick up the pen in my purse, much less write in my notebook It was as if I had trouble returning to the person, the writer, I was before Guinevere was my first, Bill tells us, so shes my favorite Bill, Scott, Wilson, and I have gone to a nearby sushi place for lunch I think it an odd choice, but perhaps not we have just been watching Athena eat raw fish, after all No one orders octopus I get California rolls The first two minutes you interacted with her, Guinevere was all over you, Bill continued But then shed calm down, staying close by and exploring Bills arms gently with her suckers Guinevere was also the first and only octopus who ever bit Bill She didnt envenomate him, and the bite didnt leave a scar Still, he admitted, I dont want it to happen again It was like a bite from a parrot, he said A parrot can exert 600 pounds of pressure per square inch with its beak, so this was not a small thing, but Bill shrugged it off As if to clear Guineveres reputation, he added, It was not a huge bite It had happened early in their relationship And besides, he added gallantly, it had been his fault He had let his hand get too close to her mouth She was curious Can I eat you The guys tell me about the other octopuses theyve known George was really good, Bill said He was pretty calm He was a pretty good octopusnot feisty The feisty ones are the ones that the first ten minutes you spend pulling arms off you Theyre constantly grabbing at you George would come over, crawl on your arm, eat, then move on Sometimes wed hang out for an hour together George died while I was on vacation, he continued Octopuses live fast and die young Giant Pacific octopuses are probably among the longest lived of the species, and they usually live only about three or four years And by the time they arrive at the aquarium, they are usually at least a year old, sometimes I had no idea George was about to die, Bill said Usually they change in body and behavior and coloration They dont stay as red Theyre whitish all the time The intensity isnt there Theyre less playful Its like old age in people Sometimes they get age spots, white patches on their skin that seem to be sloughing off That must be so hard, I said to Bill He shrugged This is, after all, part of the job But on my first visit, Scott had said, about Bill and his octopuses Theyre like his babies When one passes away, its a loss Thats an animal hes loved and cared about every day for years Georges successor, Truman, arrived while Bill was away He was one of the most active octopuses from the start Truman, he said, was an opportunist Different octopuses had different approaches to opening Wilsons boxes Each learned fairly quickly how to open the locks Bill would start with the smallest box and present it to the octopus once a week for about a month At two months theyd try the second box They mastered it in two to three weekly tries The third box, with its two different locks, might take five or six tries But even though everyone mastered the locks, on occasion each octopus, depending on personality, might employ a different strategy Calm George always opened the locks methodically But Guinevere was impetuous One day, the live crab inside so excited her that she squeezed the second largest box hard enough to crack it Later, when Truman was introduced to the boxes, he seemed to enjoy opening them But one day Bill gave him a special treat, putting two live crabs inside the smallest box When the two crabs started fighting, Truman became too excited to bother with the locks He poured his seven foot long body through the two by six inch crack Guinevere had made Visitors to his exhibit found the giant octopus, suckers flattened and facing out, squeezed into the tiny space between the walls of the fourteen cubic inch middle box and the six cubic inch one inside it Truman never did open the small box Probably he was too cramped But when he finally emerged from his cube, Bill fed him both crabs anyway Because octopuses can squeeze into such small spaces, aquarists have had some frightening moments George scared Bill nearly to death one day, when hed hidden underneath a big rock, and Bill couldnt find him even after a long, frantic search I thought hed escaped, Bill said Any hole, theyre going to go right through it, Wilson agreed More than a decade earlier, Scott had known a dwarf Caribbean octopus who lived in one of the smaller display tanks known as jewel cases at the aquarium One day Scott came in to work to find the tank overflowing onto the floor, and the octopus nowhere in sight He found that the animal had oozed behind the background of its exhibit and wedged itself into the half inch diameter pipe that recirculated the water What to do I remembered having watched this National Geographic show as a kid, he said It had showed fishermen in Greece pulling up amphora pots they had set for octopuses After hunting all night, the octopuses thought they had found safe dens there, only to be hauled up by fishermen who wanted to eat them Naturally they didnt want to come out of the pots, and the fishermen didnt want to break their vessels, so they had poured fresh water into the pots, and the octopuses came rushing out So Scott did the same with the dwarf Caribbean octopusand it worked He employed the same method years later with a misbehaving giant Pacific, so long ago Scott doesnt remember the octopuss name, but he vividly recalls the incident When Scott lifted the lid to the tank to feed the animal, the octopus attached to his hands and arms When hed peel one arm off, hed find two stuck to him The octopus wouldnt go back inside the tank, and I had to move on, he said I had things to do So he reached to the sink across from the tank, filled a pitcher with fresh water, and poured it on the octopus She instantly recoiled Im thinking I outwitted the octopus he said Scott was rather proud of himself But the octopus was incensed She got scarlet red and really thorny It was a heated moment What I didnt notice, he said, was she was blowing herself up She siphoned up a massive load of water and gushed a major surge of salt water onto my face As he stood there dripping, Scott noticed the octopus had the same look on her face as I must have had on mine when I thought Id outwitted her A few weeks later, I visited Athena for a third time Bill and Wilson were both absent, so Scott opened the top of her tank for me Athena had been resting in her usual lair, in a corner under a rock overhang, but she floated quickly to the top and hung before me, upside down I was disappointed at first that she didnt present her head or look at me Was she less curious about me now Had she glimpsed me coyly, like a woman behind a veil, peeking over the webbing between her arms, when I hadnt noticed Did she rely on her suckers to tell her, even before she had touched me, who I was If she did recognize me, though, why did she not approach me in the same way as before Why was she hanging before me like an opened umbrella, upside down And then I realized what she wanted She was asking me for food Scott asked around, and learned that Athena, who doesnt need to eat daily, hadnt been fed for a couple of days And then he allowed me the privilege of handing her a capelin I handed a fish to one of her large suckers Athena began to convey the fish toward her mouth But first she covered it with two of her other arms, enveloping it with many suckers, as if she were licking her fingers, savoring the meal Once she had eaten, I reached deeper into the water Now she let me pet her As I stroked her head and mantle, I marveled again at her softness and texture Her skin had gathered into little bumps and ridges I reached for the webbing between her arms, which was as delicate as gossamer, and so thin I could see bubbles beneath it, as sometimes happens with a swimsuit And yet, this body, so unlike my own, was responding to my touch like a dogs or a cats or a childs Even though her skin can change color and taste flavors, it, like mine, relaxes into a caress And though her mouth is between her arms, and her saliva dissolves flesh, she, like me, clearly enjoys a good meal when shes hungry I felt as if I had understood something very basic about her at that moment I dont know what its like to change color or shoot ink, but I do know the joys of gentle touch and of eating food when hungry I know what it feels like to be happy Athena was happy I was too As I drove home to New Hampshire, my happiness swelled to elation Now that I have fed her, I thought, surely she will remember me next time, if she doesnt already A week later, I was shocked to receive this e mail from Scott Sorry to write with some sad news Athena appears to be in her final days, or even hours Less than an hour later he wrote again that she was gone To my surprise, I broke down in tears Why such sorrow I dont cry often I would have been sad, but probably would not have wept, over a person I had met only thrice, with whom I had spent, in total, less than two hours I had no idea whether I meant anything at all to Athena, and even if I had, it was surely little I was not, like Wilson and Bill, Athenas special friend But she meant a great deal to me She was, like Bills Guinevere, my first We had hardly known each other, but she had given me a glimpse into a kind of mind I had never known before And that was part of the tragedy I had just started to know her I was mourning the relationship that could have blossomed but didnt have a chance to grow What is it like to be a bat the American philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked in his 1974 essay on the subjective nature of consciousness Many philosophers might argue that to be a bat is not like anythingfor, according to some, animals do not experience consciousness A sense of self is an important component of consciousness, one that a number of philosophers and researchers claim humans have but animals dont If animals were conscious, according to one book, written by a Tufts University professor, dogs would untangle their leashes from poles and dolphins would leap out of tuna nets That author clearly doesnt read Dear Abby Why dont those women leave their abusive husbands Why wont that couple just stop visiting the rude in laws Nagel concluded, like Wittgenstein before him, that it is impossible to know what it is like to be a bat After all, a bat sees much of its world using echolocation, a sense we do not possess and can hardly imagine How much further from our reach is the mind of an octopus Yet still I wondered What is it like to be an octopus Isnt this what we want to know about those whom we care about What is it like, we wonder at each meeting, in shared meals and secrets and silences, with each touch and glance, to be you There is a young pup octopus headed to Boston from the Pacific Northwest, Scott wrote me days after Athena had died Come shake hands x8 when you can At Scotts invitation, I set out to cross a chasm of half a billion years of evolution I set out to make an octopus my friend.Enter the mysterious intelligent alien world of the octopus Experience a real intelligence based on a sense of touch that humans can barely imagine Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation Renowned author Sy Montgomery s latest gem is a must read for those who want to dissolve the human constructed borders between them other animals and us 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 Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional lives of Animals Diving deeper than Jules Verne ever dreamed, The Soul of an Octopus is a page turning adventure that will leave you breathless 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, affectionateand, of course, ambidextrous If there is a Mother Nature, her name is Sy Montgomery Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company In The Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montgomery immerses readers into an intriguing, seductive world just beneath the ocean waves and the lives of the creatures living within In this beautifully written book, she brings empathy, insight, and an enchanting sense of wonderment to the bonds we inherently share with other beingseven those seeming far different from us Vint Virga, DVM The Soul of All Living Creatures A captivating book on an intelligence as alien as one from outer space And its not science fiction Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven Can an octopus have a mind and emotions, let alone a soul 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 personable, playful, conscious beings Montgomery s enthusiasm for animals most of us rarely see is infectious, and readers will come away with a new appreciation for what it means to be an octopus Virginia Morell, author of ANIMAL WISE How We Know Animals Think and Feel With apparent delight, Montgomery puts readers inside the world of these amazing creatures A fascinating glimpse into an alien consciousness Kirkus Reviews The Soul of an Octopus is one of those works that makes you hope we can save the planet if for no other reason than to preserve the wondrous beasts we are fortunate enough to share it with Steve Lysaker, Outward Hounds Sy Montgomerys joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures will have you rethinking that order of calamari Library Journal Editors Spring Pick Sweet moments are at the heart of Montgomery s compassionate, wise and tender new book Only a writer of her talent could make readers care about octopuses as individuals Joins a growing body of literature that asks us to rethink our connection to nonhumans who may be like us than we had supposed St Paul Pioneer Press What is the human soul GotQuestions Question What Answer The Bible not perfectly clear as to nature of But from studying way word used in Scripture, we can come some conclusions Simply stated, part a person that physical Soul Wikipedia soul, many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, incorporeal essence living being Definition Soul by Merriam Webster Connie s deep characters have served chief entertainment for millions families lazy weekends snowy afternoons Spirit Meaning When you examine or souls Bible, it becomes evident this basically refers people, animals, life an animal has Let us consider scriptures present these three different senses Define at Dictionary Also sense are brother , sister food etc music, essentially gospel music with girl, place Jesus, first attested William James term spiritual romantic sense, but reference inner definition Free l n A humans regarded immaterial, immortal, separable body death, capable moral judgment, susceptible happiness misery future state b This when disembodied after death In Aristotelian philosophy, animating vital principle inherent things endowing them The New Machine Tracy Kidder essential chapter history machine revolutionized world twentieth century Read less See Best Books religion philosophy Britannica Epicureans considered be made up atoms like rest For Platonists, was immaterial substance, akin gods yet change becoming Aristotle conception obscure, though he did form inseparable difference between spirit man spirit, center emotional experiences Job Psalm Jeremiah refer whole person, whether alive on earth afterlife connected, Hebrews humanity who Spycraft Rebooted: How Technology is Changing Espionage (Kindle Single) Jan Album available everywhere September Rex Arrow Films, Rostrum Records TreeJTV Present Mac Produced By ID LabsHome Sy Montgomery Montgomery naturalist, author scriptwriter writes children well adults She than books, including Octopus Surprising Exploration into Wonder Consciousness, which finalist National Book Award Nonfiction York Times Bestseller Inky Amazing Escape How Very Smart Found His documentary scriptwriter, twenty acclaimed books nonfiction children, memoir Good Pig, bestsellerThe recipient numerous honors, lifetime achievement awards Humane Society England Booksellers NoelSy nolsy Art Beauty NoelSy hair salon Bala Cynwyd, PA On Maine Line Outstanding service, impeccable artistic team It all about your Montgomery County Official site County Auditor Real estate search page Search property address Buy Fish, Save Tree DiscoverMagazine Buy counterintuitive fishery Brazil yields million tropical fish year while protecting rainforest News Room MIX Country KWWR FM MU Head Football Coach Odom Pay Raise Contract Extension Mizzou Barry getting increase his salary contract extension James Caan IMDb Caan, Actor Godfather masculine enigmatic actor whose movie career had ups downs average rollercoaster selection roles arguably derailed him achieving true superstar status, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (English Edition) eBook: Sy Montgomery: Amazon.fr: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (English Edition) eBook: Sy Montgomery: Amazon.fr: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Format Kindle
- 273 pages
- Sy Montgomery
- 19 November 2016 Sy Montgomery