The Octopus Scientists
by by Sy Montgomery
Book list *Starred Review* This color-changing, tentacled shape-shifter can pour itself through a hole the size of a thimble, drill through seashells with its tongue, squirt ink, and paralyze its prey with venom. There's nothing on the planet like an octopus, yet its high intelligence and prowess at camouflage have made this mollusk difficult to study. This beautiful entry in the award-winning Scientists in the Field series follows an expedition to the French Polynesian island of Moorea to study Pacific day octopuses not octopi in the wild and unlock some of the mystery surrounding this marine animal. With infectious enthusiasm, the team searches for octopuses with their dens, so the scientists can study their personalities and diet, of which little is known. Between dives, mind-boggling octopus facts are relayed, as well as the team members' backgrounds. Spectacular underwater photography shows octopuses standing tall and stately on their tentacles, while others lie coiled with their skin drawn up into peaks to mimic coral or displaying a range of colors and patterns (purple and gold, stripes and spots) that they can conjure in one-tenth of a second. Other marine life is also featured in breathtaking shots of sea turtles, dazzling fish, and giant clams. Ultimately, little new information is discovered, but this account of octopuses' lives remains endlessly fascinating.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 6-9-Searching for octopuses along the coast of Moorea in French Polynesia might sound like a dream assignment. However, these elusive mollusks are master of deceptive camouflage: boneless wonders that can ooze into impossibly small spaces and that tend to change their locations abruptly, leaving merely a tidy stack of emptied shells from past meals. Montgomery and Ellenbogen join psychologist Jennifer Mather and her team as they methodically explore Moorea's fringing reefs, recording finds of octopus dens and middens on geographic grids, meeting octopods here and there that peer curiously from their hiding places. Interspersed with this logical, systematic investigation is a series of fascinating asides: discussions of the Centre de Researches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement de Polynésie Française, of the intelligence of these evasive creatures and their amazing capability to change the color and texture of their skin, and of the coral habitats they select as dwelling places. Through sharply crafted text, Montgomery shares her enthusiasm with readers, and Ellenbogen's vibrant color photos allow a crystalline window into a very special environment. This glimpse into an alien world and mind combines biology and psychology: an exciting pairing. VERDICT Another enticing entry in a series devoted to highlighting enthusiastic scientists hard at work in the fields they love.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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