Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The science behind the mermaids of Miri Attwater: octopus camouflage

In celebration of the release of Book 2, Miri Attwater and All that Glitters, I thought it would be fitting to go a little into the science behind the magic of the Miri Attwater series.

Science is amazing. It's better than magic! Because it's real.

When I first started the Miri books, my intention was to write pure fantasy, with magic and everything. Magic makes things easy. Yeah, I know you have to come up with rules but -

Need something? Make up a rule and -


You have something. It's magic!

The problem was, every time I got to the point in the story where Miri's legs magically turned into tails, it just didn't feel right to me. Even though other writers used it - in fact the original myths even used it - it still felt hollow and unbelievable. I mean, how could legs turn into tails?


I mean, I knew it wasn't "real," but still my brain wanted to understand exactly how that could happen.

The answer?

An octopus.

Now you might be thinking, "Ew! What could an octopus possibly have to do with mermaids! That's gross!" just like Miri. But it wasn't just the octopus itself, it was octopus camouflage.

I saw a video of octopus camouflage. And I believed it was possible for mermaid legs to turn into tails.

Watch. And believe.


Want to learn more about octopuses? Check out these websites. (Ask a parent's premission before clicking on the links below.)

Squid and Octopus Switch on Camouflage at
8 Feet of Justice at


  1. That is incredible! Can't wait to show that video to the girls tomorrow when they wake up.

    1. It blew me away the first time I saw it too!

  2. Fascinating! Thank you for the TED video link.