Amusing Monday: Diving with the yellow eye

This week, I’d like to bring you a couple of engaging pieces — a podcast and a magazine article — both longer than what I usually post for “Amusing Monday.”

Both include stories about octopuses. But what I love about both of these is the human interaction. They also take me back about 35 years to a time when I was actively scuba diving all over Puget Sound.

In the podcast, the interviewer, Jeff Emptman, expresses a curiosity about scuba diving in Puget Sound, and he is rewarded with a vivid and accurate description by a janitor named John:

Jeff: “What’s that feeling like, dipping below the surface?”

John: “In Puget Sound, the first feeling is, ‘Oh my god, it’s so freakin’ cold!’”

An octopus was seen living on the western summit of Vailulu'u, American Somoa in 2005. Photo courtesy of Vailulu'u Exploration, NOAA-OE
Octopus living on the west summit of Vailulu’u, American Somoa
Photo courtesy of Vailulu’u Exploration, 2005, NOAA-OE,

Like I said, John has a way with words. This audio is from Emptman’s podcast, called “Here Be Monsters.” I first heard this interview played on KUOW public radio this past week and knew I had to share it with you. The introduction is OK, but if you want to get to the heart of the matter, just skip the first two minutes, which is how KUOW played it.

For the divers reading this, I would enjoy hearing any stories you have to share or links to dive stories told particularly well. You may post them in the comments below or send them to me in an email,

The second piece I’d like to share is a story by Sy Montgomery published in Orion Magazine called “Deep Intellect: Inside the Mind of the Octopus.” It includes this narrative.

“I had always longed to meet an octopus. Now was my chance: senior aquarist Scott Dowd arranged an introduction. In a back room, he would open the top of Athena’s tank. If she consented, I could touch her.

“The heavy lid covering her tank separated our two worlds. One world was mine and yours, the reality of air and land, where we lumber through life governed by a backbone and constrained by jointed limbs and gravity. The other world was hers, the reality of a nearly gelatinous being breathing water and moving weightlessly through it.

“We think of our world as the ‘real’ one, but Athena’s is realer still: after all, most of the world is ocean, and most animals live there. Regardless of whether they live on land or water, more than 95 percent of all animals are invertebrates, like Athena.”

To top of this week’s “Amusing Monday” entry, I have two pieces that are neither long nor engaging. Click on the video player to hear an illustrated version of the Beatles’ song, “Octopus’ Garden” or click on this link, “Octopus Walks on Land,” to view a YouTube video of an octopus leaving the water for a jaunt across the beach at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, within San Mateo County Park in Moss Beach, Calif., about 40 minutes south of San Francisco.

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