Dr. David Scheel: The Mysteries of Octopuses




This episode of Big Blend Radio’s NATURE CONNECTION Show features David Scheel. PhD, who has been studying octopuses for more than 25 years, specializing in animal behavior. 


Of all the creatures of the deep blue, none is as captivating as the octopus. In his book, “MANY THINGS UNDER A ROCK: The Mysteries of Octopuses,” Dr. Scheel shares his research, as well as that of other marine biologists, to show us much of what has been learned—and remains to be understood—about these fascinating sea creatures. As he explains, more than 300 different species of octopuses exist, yet their elusive behavior and the changing nature of their appearance make them difficult to locate, identify, and study.  

How can we study an animal with perfect camouflage and secretive habitats? How does a soft and boneless creature defeat sharks and eels, while thriving as a predator of the most heavily armored animals in the sea? How do octopus bodies work? And how does a solitary animal form friendships, entice mates, and outwit rivals?

Over the course of his twenty-five years studying octopuses, Scheel has witnessed a sea change in what we know and are able to discover about octopus physiology and behavior—even an octopus’s inner life. Here he explores amazing new scientific developments, weaving accounts of his own research, and surprising encounters, with stories and legends of Indigenous peoples that illuminate our relationship with these creatures across centuries. In doing so, he reveals a deep affinity between humans and even the most unusual and unique undersea dwellers.

Octopuses are complex, emotional, and cognitive beings; even as Scheel unearths explanations for the key mysteries that have driven his work, he turns up many more things of wonder that lurk underneath. This is the story of what we have learned and what we are still learning about the natural history and wondrous lives of these animals with whom we share our blue planet.

David is a field-oriented ecologist with experience in remote and wilderness settings in Africa and Alaska.  He joined Alaska Pacific University in 2000 and teaches courses in marine biology, aquarium husbandry, and animal behavior.

David was educated in biology, animal behavior, and ecology; and trained in the field in places such as Yellowstone National Park, Serengeti NP in Tanzania, and many sites around Alaska. He lived with African lions and wild dogs for two years in the Serengeti, researching lion-hunting behavior. He began working with marine predators in 1993. In his marine research, he has worked with fisheries, marine birds and mammals, and marine invertebrates in Prince William Sound and the northern Gulf of Alaska.

David specializes in the ecology and evolution of predator-prey relations and habitat use; and he has conducted theoretical, field, and laboratory studies in this area. His interests include the theory and philosophy of evolution, the evolution of consciousness, animal behavior, predator-prey ecology, ecology of social predators, and cephalopod biology. His research since 1995 examines the biology of the Giant Pacific Octopus and includes field studies in Prince William Sound conducted in the intertidal, by SCUBA diving, and by submersible. The octopus studies also brought David to Tatitlek, Chenega Bay, and Port Graham villages, where he worked with Native Alaskans to improve his understanding of octopus ecology through traditional ecological knowledge. With his students, David has discovered a new octopus species in Alaskan waters. He collaborates on behavioral studies of octopuses in Mo’orea and Australia.

David is an NAUI-certified Rescue Diver and AAUS Scientific Diver, an aquarium enthusiast, and a wildlife photographer. He has two daughters. More: https://alaskaoctopus.com/

This episode is part of Big Blend Radio’s “Nature Connection” Series that airs every 4th Friday in collaboration with Margot Carrera, a fine art nature photographer who is passionate about the environment. More: https://www.carrerafineartgallery.com/   Follow the Nature Connection Podcast at



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No Feedback Received