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      Free Webinar: “Exploring the Octopus: How to Learn from Animal Behavior”

      Photo courtesy Don Bloom

      “Exploring the Octopus: How to Learn from Animal Behavior” is Topic of November 18 “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” Free Webinar

      Octopuses explore the world around them with their flexible arms, which can touch — and actually taste — to help them quickly identify prey. Maui Nui Marine Resource Council invites the public to learn more about the specialized octopus cells that make this unique ability possible at a free Zoom webinar titled “Exploring the Octopus: How to Learn from Animal Behavior” on Wednesday, November 18 at 3 pm. This presentation is part of MNMRC’s monthly “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series.”

      The guest speaker will be Peter Kilian, Research Assistant and Aquatic Animal Technician at the Bellono Lab at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. The lab studies how diverse organisms sense and respond to changes in their environment.

      Peter will be sharing his work on a paper which he co-authored that was recently published in Cell titled, “Molecular Basis of Chemotactile Sensation in Octopus.” Stories about this report, which describes how octopus can both touch and taste with their arms, have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, tv news shows and online journals, including The New York Times, CNN, Smithsonian Magazine and others.

      As a research assistant and aquatic animal technician at Bellono Lab, Peter spends most of his time working with fish, sharks, cephalopods, and various other marine invertebrates to try and learn how and why they behave the way they do.

      “So many of us on Maui are fascinated with octopuses, especially after ‘My Octopus Teacher’ launched on Netflix,” says Meredith Beeson, Project and Research Coordinator at Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “We are excited to host this presentation by Peter Kilian, which will describe how Harvard researchers looked at the octopus at the molecular level to learn how the nervous system in the octopus’ arms — which operate largely independently from its centralized brain — allows these animals to both touch and taste their prey.”

      The guest emcee will be Darla Palmer-Ellingson, local radio show host of the public affairs program, Island Environment 360 Maui’s only commercially broadcast public affairs show on environmental and related Hawaiian cultural topics. Her  program is made possible by H-Hawaii Media.

      Maui Nui Marine Resource Council offers its monthly “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” via Zoom, usually on the first Wednesday of the month. This month’s presentation was delayed due to Election Day and Veteran’s Day. Please note that this event will start at 3 pm, earlier than other “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” talks, because the speaker is located in Massachusetts. If you wish to view the presentation, but cannot attend at 3 pm, please email [email protected] to receive emailed information about where and how to view the presentation later in the day.

      To make a reservation for the live Zoom presentation, please visit https://bit.ly/OctopusTalk

      The “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” is made possible with support from the County of Maui Mayorʻs Office of Economic Development.

      About our speaker:
      Peter Kilian, Research Assistant and Aquatic Animal Technician at the Bellono Lab at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard, has been interested in the mystery of animal behavior since a young age. His drive to work with animals originates from countless trips to the local zoo and aquarium when he was growing up. This curiosity continued to evolve in college, where Peter dove into his passion for animal work. While in college he spent time working as a beekeeper, a penguin aquarist at the New England Aquarium, and a pygmy octopus husbandry specialist in the mariculture lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. He has since graduated from college, and now works full time in the Bellono Lab at Harvard as a research assistant and aquatic animal technician. He spends most of his time working with fish, sharks, cephalopods, and various other marine invertebrates to try and learn how and why they behave the way they do.

       

       

       

       

       

       

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