THE OCTOPUS IN MY HOUSE starring David Scheel, is a weird and wonderful documentary full of humour and curiosity. It’s not every day that an octopus stays in your living room.
Based in Alaska, David and his daughter, Laurel, bring in a large tank with salt water into their home and welcome Heidi the Day Octopus. There is extraordinary interaction between the alien-like creature and humans, which we see quite quickly. Heidi watches TV with them, grabs Laurel’s phone and jets water in their faces - certainly not your average pet.
There is reciprocated waving, 8 arms latching onto a hand and ability to recognise others. Although they associate the Scheels with food. I do like to think that there is a bond and that there is individual personality, which is questioned towards the end of the programme.
I grew to appreciate this animal and its high intelligence. Within minutes, I am learning such a lot about octopuses. Their stunning colour-changing abilities (AKA, ‘passing cloud’), puzzle solving skills and capability of ‘playing’ with an empty pill box actually makes me think that they are more like us than we thought. Their extreme contortion, squeezing through tiny spaces, particularly grabbed my attention. Octopuses have 3 hearts, around 240 suckers and a gut running through their brain! Strange but fascinating.
I have to stress how beautiful every shot underwater is. The quality is almost unreal, and we can truly see more detail than even meets the eye, especially their vivid colours flashing. It makes it really engaging and I also somehow got lost underwater in the moment.
There is a shot where hatching takes place, with the smallest octopuses gliding out into the world. But their cuteness may fade when we see them munching prey double their size, usually crabs. They are survivors from the moment they are born, knowing to hide and survive in the vast ocean.
We see a study from 2009 of an octopus carrying two halves of a coconut shell, carrying it everywhere with it. When it becomes in danger, it then moves inside the two shells, putting them together whilst hiding and floating. How amazing! However, Heidi is fooled when David puts a mask on to weigh her, which she dislikes. This means she thinks it’s someone else and won’t associate David to the weighing. He speaks to her and treats her just like you’d treat a dog or cat, with friendliness and care. I got the impression by the end that he didn’t release her back into the ocean and continued to keep her. I did wonder that he’d become fond of her.
I can’t pick any negatives from this programme, at all. I’ve learnt so much and research teams are also finding out new things such as octopuses living together amongst empty crab shells, when they’ve usually always lived independently. They also interact with each other and choose to ignore other octopuses.
Parts made me laugh and other parts opened my eyes with interest and admiration. Not one moment bored me. It is certainly worth a watch.
You can watch this episode now on iPlayer