The Depths of Intelligence

9780544232709_hresThe Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk
By Sy Montgomery
Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, Boston, $18.99)

One of the world’s most intriguing animals is neither vertebrate nor terrestrial: it is a marine mollusk with three hearts, eight arms, a venomous bite, and the ability to change color. In The Octopus Scientists, Sy Montgomery and photographer Keith Ellenbogen transport readers to French Polynesia, where an international team  of researchers is studying the Pacific Day Octopus. Montgomery’s delight is infectious as she introduces readers to individual octopuses, whose personalities range from reticent to curious to playful. Never condescending to her audience, she also describes the scientists’ adventures in the field and their colleagues’ equally exciting work in the laboratory. In addition, the book contains brief biographies of the various scientists on the team. Meanwhile, Ellenbogen’s photographs let readers travel below the surface of the tropical blue waters to meet an array of octopuses – and the other fascinating creatures who share their home. The Octopus Scientists should interest both kids and adults in octopuses and other marine life and the health of the ocean; it should also inspire a few to try snorkeling.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

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