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The famous photo of Ben Savard taken by an octopus.

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Photographer-Octopus and Digital Media Producer Are Internet Celebrities

March 5, 2015



MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Who can predict where your 15 minutes of fame will come from? Middlebury College Digital Media Producer Ben Savard ’14 thought March 2 would be a typical work day – instead his subsequent encounter with a photographer-octopus has made them both surprise internet celebrities. How did this happen? 

Hoping to test some photo and video techniques, Savard arrived at a lab at Middlebury where neuroscience students were conducting research with octopuses. The students are testing whether or not an octopus can learn a task  faster after observing another octopus complete the same task.

When a student helped Savard place his GoPro camera in the tank, a feisty octopus grabbed the camera and snapped some shots of Savard.

Octopus
The feisty octopus photographer

Seeing the obvious humor of the situation, Savard posted a photo to the social media site Reddit and was surprised to find that it was viewed 2 million times the first day and now stands at 3.3 million views. Since then he has done several interviews and the story has been posted to the websites of numerous media outlets, including nbcnews.com and the UK’s Daily Mail. The blog Gawker has weighed in as well. Savard created an animated GIF (see below) and supplied it to reporters, adding to the media's interest.

As Savard told the Washington Post, "I was just trying to brainstorm different ideas of how to show off the kind of unique research that's going on here and in ways that would be engaging. I think the octopus's timing was great. I was just in the right place at the right time."

How does Savard feel about his new celebrity status?  “If David Letterman or Ellen need a guest, I’m available.”

Created by Savard, the GIF below is the footage taken by the octopus.

Octopus Photographer



2 Comments

Seems a little fishy

by Jeremy Dworkin (not verified)

Carey and I set up this lab many years ago (2007-2008) while at Middlebury. Glad to see folks have continued to work with the octopus and continue to study their learning capabilities-- they're quite cool creatures...and can get a hold of almost anything.

by Michael Winter (not verified)

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