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S38 Ep1

Octopus: Making Contact

Premiere: 10/2/2019 | 00:00:35 |

Follow an Alaskan professor as he raises and studies a day octopus in his home, making remarkable discoveries about its extraordinary intelligence, personality and skills. Octopuses are able to recognize faces and interact with other individuals.

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About the Episode

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.

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.

“Octopuses followed a different evolutionary path, making them different from all other intelligent animals on this planet,” said David Scheel. “I am less intrigued by the differences and more interested in our similarities. What kind of a connection is possible with an animal that has three hearts and blue blood running through its veins? It’s been a privilege to have a relationship with such a strange and wonderful creature.”

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NARRATED BY
DAVID SCHEEL

WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY
DAVID ALLEN

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
DAVID ALLEN

DIRECTED BY
ANNA FITCH

EDITOR
RICHARD WILKINSON

ADDITIONAL EDITOR
SARAH CANNON

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
ERNIE KOVACS

ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY
JOHN SHAW

MUSIC COMPOSED & CONDUCTED BY
FRASER PURDIE

ASSISTANT PRODUCER
DAVID JOHN

LINE PRODUCERS
CHRISTIAN HOLLAND
GEORGE CHIGNELL

ADDITIONAL CAMERA
SOREN SIBERETS

DUBBING MIXER
MATT COSTER

COLORIST
DAN GILL

GRAPHICS
ELOISE GARLICK

ONLINE EDITOR
EDWARD GIBBS

POST PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR
CHRISTOPHER GENT

RESEARCHER
SAM WIGFIELD

PRODUCTION COORDINATORS
NAOMI SUMPTER
JADE WHELDON

DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
GABY BASTYRA

ARCHIVE
PETER GODFREY-SMITH
MATTHEW LAWRENCE
DAVID SCHEEL

STEFAN LINQUIST
MARTIN HING

STEPHANIE CHANCELLOR
ELORA KOOISTRA
NHNZ

GETTY IMAGES/BBC MOTION GALLERY
IDEACOM

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE
NATURE FOOTAGE

KQED

NEWSFLARE

JUNKIN MEDIA

CNN

COLIN MASLEN

SHUTTERSTOCK

SPECIAL THANKS
LAUREL SCHEEL
MATTHEW LAWRENCE
DALE SANDERS
BRET GRASSE

JASON COPP

THE MARINE LIFE CENTER, BELLINGHAM, WA

MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY, WOODS HOLE, MA
ALASKA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY

KEVIN IZUMI

WEYMOUTH SEA LIFE ADVENTURE PARK

THE TONMO COMMUNITY

NATHAN HOLLENBACK

FOR THE BBC

EDIT ASSISTANT
ALAN NEAL

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
JOANNA MANLEY

PRODUCTION MANAGER
PAULINE GATES

SERIES PRODUCER
HOLLY SPEARING

SERIES EDITOR
ROGER WEBB

FOR NATURE

SERIES EDITOR
JANET HESS

SENIOR PRODUCER
LAURA METZGER LYNCH

COORDINATING PRODUCER
JAYNE JUN

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
JAMES F. BURKE

LEGAL COUNSEL
BLANCHE ROBERTSON

DIGITAL PRODUCER
HEATHER TONER

SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR
KAREN HO

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
CHELSEY SAATKAMP

BUDGET CONTROLLER
JAYNE LISI

ONLINE EDITOR
STACEY DOUGLASS MOVERLEY

ADDITIONAL VOICEOVER
ALLAN PECK

RE-RECORDING MIXER
JON BERMAN

ORIGINAL PRODUCTION FUNDING PROVIDED IN PART BY
The Arnhold Family

Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III

The Fairweather Foundation

Kate W. Cassidy Foundation

Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao

Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust
Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation
Rosalind P. Walter

Sandra Atlas Bass

Doris R. and Robert J. Thomas

Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation
The M. & H. Sommer Foundation

The Sun Hill Family Foundation
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

SERIES PRODUCER
BILL MURPHY

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
FRED KAUFMAN

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