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Review of The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk

montgomery_octopus scientistsThe Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk [Scientists in the Field]
by Sy Montgomery; photos by Keith Ellenbogen
Intermediate, Middle School     Houghton     71 pp.
5/15     978-0-544-232-70-9     $18.99

The French Polynesian island region of Moorea is home to the Pacific day octopus and to a research center that serves as home base for four scientists who study the species. Montgomery tags along with the team, which is interested not just in the anatomy and environments of these mollusks but also in their psychology: the scientists wish to study the decision-making of octopuses as they avoid predators and choose food and shelter. To do so, they first have to find the octopuses, a difficult task that takes up much of the book, as octopuses employ an array of defense mechanisms to keep themselves hidden. Once found, though, Montgomery explains the detailed, careful methods the scientists employ to collect data about the octopuses and the remnant shells of the animals they consume, surveying every meter of the areas of each octopus sighting. Along the way, Montgomery describes all aspects of life in the field, including the personalities and quirks of the scientists and the joys of working in a beautiful tropical locale. Abundant stunningly clear underwater photographs highlight the colorful details of a range of marine species — including sea cucumbers, sharks, fish, rays, and eels as well as the octopuses. A bibliography and index are appended.

From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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