Nature – Octopus: Making Contact

Nature – Octopus: Making Contact

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 8:00pm - 9:00pm
The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris).

Credit: Courtesy of TheSP4N1SH / © Getty Images/iStockphoto

Discover the other worldly abilities of the octopus.

Octopus behavior has fascinated humans for centuries; their unique shape and skillsets often provide the inspiration for extraterrestrials in science fiction. New in the world of cephalopod research is the extent to which these intelligent animals are individual personalities – able to recognize faces and interact with other individuals – all of which is an odd adaptation for an animal thought to live an asocial existence. Follow this new science through the story of a pet octopus and its evolving relationship with the passionate American scientist studying it in Nature – Octopus: Making Contact, premiering Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Dr. David Scheel, a professor of marine biology at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, raises a day octopus in a tank in his home with assistance from his teenage daughter Laurel. Given the name Heidi, the octopus bonds with the Scheels, showing recognition of their faces, excitement when the humans come near and an inclination for playing with Laurel. Scheel links his discoveries — which also include Heidi’s demonstrated abilities to change color, solve puzzles, use tools and escape through small spaces — to octopus findings from all over the world, further proving the extraordinary intelligence of these incredible creatures.