"The moment the lid was off, we reached for each other. She had already oozed from the far corner of her lair, where she had been hiding, to the top of the tank to investigate her visitor. Her eight arms boiled up, twisting, slippery, to meet mine.
As we gazed into each other’s eyes, Athena encircled my arms with hers, latching on with first dozens, then hundreds of her sensitive, dexterous suckers. They felt like an alien’s kiss — at once a probe and a caress. Although she can taste with all of her skin, in the suckers both taste and touch are exquisitely developed. Athena was tasting me and feeling me at once, knowing my skin, and possibly the blood and bone beneath, in a way I could never fathom. When I stroked her soft head with my fingertips, she changed color beneath my touch, her ruby-flecked skin going white and smooth.
Athena was remarkably gentle with me — even as she began to transfer her grip from her smaller, outer suckers to the larger ones. She seemed to be slowly but steadily pulling me into her tank. Had it been big enough to accommodate my body, I would have gone in willingly."
— Adapted from Deep Intellect by Sy Montgomery, Orion Magazine, February 2015. Athena is a forty-pound, five-foot-long, two-and-a-half-year-old giant Pacific octopus in the New England Aquarium in Boston.