Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Meeting With A Remarkable Octopus

I can’t be sure this is the same giant Pacific octopus I met at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in December but the display is similar. My daughter and I walked around a corner and spotted the large tank, which was dark that day, the way they like it. The resident octopus was in the back corner, not active at all, but we stood and admired him anyway.

After 10 minutes or so he came out, slowly, to the front of the tank. He positioned himself so his left eye was adjacent to my face, and we made eye contact. In a few moments I felt like I had connected with this creature of the sea. It was sentience, intelligence, a meeting between two living beings.

I’ve never seen an octopus in such close proximity and I don’t think I ever realized until this meeting how much personality they have. We kept eye contact for minutes, and I told the octopus how amazing he was.

As I continued talking to him, he began to move and show off his tentacles and his range of motion, in what I can only call a dance. It was a stunning display that went on for a long time. Across the entire tank and back again, then up to the corner where a water flow was emitting lots of bubbles. I have never seen anything like it. He went to different areas of the tank and displayed his color-changing ability, then came to the front corner and stayed there for another long time.

I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend. On the plane home days later I bought and downloaded a book about octopuses and their biology, wondering what it might take to go back to grad school and study marine biology, one of my early career interests.

For now, I’m an avid octopus fan, wishing I could have a repeat of this encounter on a daily basis. If you go to marine aquariums, find the giant Pacific octopus and stay awhile. Talk to them. Admire them. See if they respond. I think they will.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Watched the video. He’s very majestic.i don’t know much about octopus but they are certainly graceful and I’ve heard they’re very smart.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

OMG I love octopuses (all the cephalopods really) so much! You will enjoy this podcast from the NPR show 1A, which I can't recommend highly enough. I will try to embed a link, but just in case - I've had trouble doing that in your comment forms before - will also type it.

Octopod: Inside The Amazing World Of The Octopus

billie said...

A, they are super smart as are all the cephalopods. Was reading (and then talking last week at our local museum of natural history’s science cafe night) about the evolution of the cephalopod brain running parallel with primates. Very interesting. I think if we were mermaids we would be hanging out with octopuses!

billie said...

Thanks, C - I think I heard that when it was on the air! I am not the biggest 1A fan but it was good!