What We're Watching
Among the most intelligent mollusks that swim the seven seas are octopi, creatures with eight suction-cup-lined legs, each of which can literally think independently. They live short lives, spending much of their 1 to 2 years in the sea hiding from predators while stealth-hunting crabs and other crustaceans. It turns out that humans can learn something from them, too. “My Octopus Teacher,” a Netflix Original Documentary, tells the story of South African documentary filmmaker and naturalist Craig Foster, who begins daily free-diving exercises and eventually forms a heartwarming bond with a female common octopus that lets Foster in on her everyday life beneath the waves. She allows him to investigate her burrow, watch her sleep and observe how she avoids the ever-present pyjama sharks that love nothing more than eating octopi. Foster’s encounters with the octopus teach him about the fragility of life and how humans can connect with nature.
More Salty Reads
The tale of how the U.S. Navy was founded and its exploits during the Revolutionary War is well-documented. A less frequently told story is the fleet of privately owned vessels—everything from small whaleboats to cannon-packed man-of-war ships—that assisted in the war effort against the British. Rebels at Sea by historian Eric Jay Dolin lays down the argument that while privateers were seen as profiteers and sometimes pirates, they were critical players in the victorious American outcome of the Revolutionary War. The book is filled with stories of the privateers’ torment against the British as well as detailed accounts of the successes and failures they found on the high seas. ($33, Liveright)
New from author J.H. Gelernter is Captain Grey’s Gambit. It’s 1803 and a French naval fleet is set to sail across the English Channel, their eyes set on invading the southernmost of England’s beaches. A disgruntled member of Napoleon’s closest advisors, who has become disenchanted with the leader’s authoritarian ways, wants out and secretly communicates with British intelligence with hopes of defecting to London. An escape plan is set into motion that calls for a rendezvous at a chess tournament in Frankfurt. The Brits send Capt. Thomas Grey, one of their top intelligence officers and keenest chess players, to carry out the Frenchman’s escape to England. Things don’t go as planned when the defector demands his pro-Napoleon daughter come with them. ($26, W.W. Norton & Company)
They Chose Poorly
It’s no secret that boaters, especially those with little experience, often miscalculate forecasts or other sea conditions and get themselves into trouble. Packed with 90 different episodes, the “They Had to Go Out” podcast focuses on interviews with U.S. Coast Guard veterans about some of the most harrowing, hazardous and epic sea stories on record, including tales of piracy, violent storms and daring rescues at sea. You can stream or download episodes from the Apple Podcast app, Spotify and Google Play.