Dream Comes True for Boy with Anxiety Aspiring to Become An Octopus Psychologist

It’s not only the human mind that is the subject of discussion this World Mental Health
Awareness Day, bear a thought for our marine friends The Octopus. Known as one of the
most intelligent creatures under the sea, the Octopus has been a subject of study for animal
behaviourist and marine biologist alike for many decades. Octopuses have varied
personalities and intelligence that they show in a myriad of ways, therefore providing a
challenge and inspiration for generations of researchers. More specifically, the specialist
study of octopus psychology.

When local aquarium SEA LIFE Brighton were contacted to help a young boy with very
specific career aspirations, they were more than happy to help. Channelling his love of
Octopuses Southampton residents Max Greach, 12 and his Mum Emma began to read ‘The
Soul of the Octopus ‘together a book by naturalist Sy Montegomery. The 2011 New York
Times Bestseller explores the connection between human emotions and that of the highly
intelligent behaviours of the Octopus. Emma and her Son, from Southampton, were so
inspired they set about researching how Max could one day become an Octopus

As a result of Max’s own anxiety he lacked the self-confidence to believe he
could realise his dream, therefore Emma contacted SEA LIFE Brighton to share her son’s
story and to see if they could help him overcome his anxiety and help him on the first part of
his journey setting out to work with Octopuses in the future.


In response, last week SEA LIFE Brighton’s animal care team organised for Max to spend
some quality time with Pumpkin, their resident Octopus. Max and his Mum were guided by
Joe Williams, Senior Aquarist, to carry out various enrichment activities with Pumpkin and
experience first-hand how an Octopus behaves.


The day certainly helped to boost Max’s belief in himself, on being asked about his
encounter with Pumpkin, Max said: “I really enjoyed meeting Pumpkin. She’s very clever and
interesting. I learned that she likes to play games, Joe knows everything about her and her
enrichment. I feel much more confident now, it will be hard work to be an Octopus
Psychologist, but it will mean I can do research about them so we can find out about them
even more”

General Manager for SEA LIFE Brighton, Max Leviston who arranged the Octopus
experience for the family said: “We’ve been delighted to be able to be able to arrange this for
Max and his Mum and help to support him in his ambitions to become an Octopus
Phycologist. To see the gain in confidence from Max in his time spent with Joe and Pumpkin
has been fantastic, we hope to continue to help Max with his aspirations because with
mental health becoming more of a focus in society, it is great to be able to offer support
where and when we can ”

For more information on SEA LIFE Brighton and their resident Octopus Pumpkin visit

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