Soul of an Octopus

The Soul of an Octopus:

A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

Review Written by Helena Milazzo

Founder and CEO of LegaSea Ecology LLC Learn More About Helena

March 30, 2022

In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism. From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. Each creature shows her cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orangutan; jetting water to bounce balls; and endlessly tricking companions with multiple “sleights of hand” to get food. Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. With her “joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures” (Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.
Book Title: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
Book Author: Sy Montgomery
Genre: Nonfiction
Pub Date: April 5, 2016
Page Count: 272 pages
ISBN: 1451697724

Soul of an Octopus is still to date one of my favorite books and one of the most influential pieces of marine literature that I have read to date. I began this book on a trip down to the Bahamian island of Abaco with a handful of students and professors from my university to conduct Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessments on the fish, coral, and algae species found on Bahamian reefs. Apart from the surveys, my attention was all consumed by this book and I finished it just three days later. During surface intervals between dives, swinging in the hammock as the sun dipped gently behind the palm fronds, and underneath the thin yet suffocating sheets of our extremely small bunkbeds, I flipped through the pages with curiosity and amazement, as well as a heavy conscience. Before reading this book, I was admittedly one of many people who fell ignorant to an octopuses sentience, intelligence, and inherent value, and, even more upsettingly, consumed a grilled octopus in a fancy restaurant from time to time.

Through the unique experience of interacting, forming relationships, and learning from these truly magnificent beings, Sy Montgomery has the ability to take readers on an eye-opening, heart throbbing exploration of these amazing animals through both a scientific and anecdotal lens. This book is entertaining, educational, and an easy read, palatable for most and will make you gain a strong appreciation for these unique aliens of our world’s oceans.

I hope you all love this book as much as I did! Enjoy!

Helena Milazzo
Helena Milazzo

Founder and CEO of LegaSea Ecology LLC

Learn More About Helena

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