- Beth Solka
Years ago, I became fascinated by the writings of a young naturalist named Dian Fossey. Her writings were so intriguing because they were not just dryly scientific journalism. Dian Fossey’s background was in education instead of zoology, and she used her observational abilities to describe the world around her. She had the ability to immerse the reader in her world of gorillas. Author Sy Montgomery has degrees in journalism and psychology and also has that ability to immerse her readers in the whole situation while describing her experiences.
For The Soul of the Octopus, Sy immersed herself in their world. While working in an aquarium, she developed a strong affection for the octopuses. She also cared greatly for the aquarium's staff, including the senior scientist whose wife had Alzheimer's and struggled to look after both the aquarium he loved and the wife he loved. Sy also grew to care for the autistic teenage girl who memorized the names of every scientific species in the aquarium.
The Soul of the Octopus introduces you to Octavia, the elderly octopus that played an important part in Sy’s life. Athena is a young octopus that is so incredibly smart that it took several scientists to figure out how to contain her.
These intelligent creatures are able to form deep attachments to humans, even though they are so much like alien beings. They are able to change their color to match their surroundings, shoot black ink into the face of an attacker, taste things with their suckers, think with their arms, and see the world through their skin.
After Sy Montgomery developed a deep love for octopuses in the aquarium, she decided to learn to scuba dive so that she could see her precious octopuses in their natural ocean environment. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and the reader will never think of these cephalopods in the same way.