New Octopus Book: Soul of an Octopus


Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Nov 20, 2002
Dallas Texas
A new octopus book has just been released: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. The author, Sy Montgomery is a popular naturalist who has written books on Dolphins, Tigers, Pigs, and Great Apes, just to name a few. She was really interested in octopuses and not only researched them, but visited them often and even went diving.

Well, what's exciting is that the book Colin Dunlop and I wrote, Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium, is referred to in the Soul of an Octopus. Also, the author actually mentions my name and Ollie's in two places and discusses a couple of my Ollie stories from our ceph book.

I was glad to see that our website,, is listed in online resources.

I haven't read this book yet, but from what I've seen so far, it will be worth reading. I'll post a review after I've read the whole book.

Even though this book is published by a major publisher and looks very professional and is on good paper, it skimps on photos - only 15, although they are good quality and color.


Sent from my iPad
I started it last night and am close to finishing (I think - using an e-reader so a feel for length is forfeited for the ease of reading and portability). Sy Montgomery did two articles in Orion Magazine (online) in 2011 (linked here). The book recounts those article stories in more details and continues through several more GPO's kept at the aquarium. If you enjoyed these articles, you will definitely enjoy the book. Reading the articles will not take away from the repeat material.

She covers many aspects of keeping octopuses (much common to any octopus but the stories are about her experiences with the GPO), a lot on their anatomy (in story form but accurate - unlike the Scientific American writer and self proclaimed expert) and a lot of anthropomorphic analysis that most keepers would give a nod to having the same impressions (she goes a bit overboard IMO but this is not intended as a science piece) and similar experiences. She mentions several of our members (@Nancy, @Thales,@mucktopus , @pgs, @jugglematt, @ceph, @robyn - edit added to as the names and comments appear) as well as other well known ceph scientists with either direct or paraphrased quotes. IMO, the accuracy of biology and keeper aspects (she goes through the thinking about keeping a Caribbean species at home) make the book a high recommendation for someone thinking about keeping an octopus but needs that caveat that home kept animals live very short lives and are not as interactive as the animals she records.

The news releases and reviews can be found here in our news forum.
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Well D, you're way ahead of me! Yes, ebooks can be read very quickly. Glad you found more Tonmo people mentioned. Sy has many fans who enjoy her writing, so I think this book will be very popular and help people see octopuses for the intelligent creatures that they are.

I certainly agree with your assessment of "the Scientific American writer".

Thank you, D, for telling me to put more Ollie stories in the Cephalopods book. The Ollie stories were simply things I observed and recorded over her lifetime that I wrote up as little anecdotes, and these have been well received by many.


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