The Seamstress Who Solved the Ancient Mystery of the Argonaut, Pioneered the Aquarium, and Laid the Groundwork for the Study of Octopus Intelligence

Maria Popova at The Marginalian:

Unlike other naturalists, who had studied preserved specimens, Jeanne realized that she could only discover the true origin of the shell if she observed living creatures. To bypass the evolution-mounted obstacle of their extreme shyness, she designed and constructed one of the world’s first offshore research stations — a system of immense cages she anchored off the coast of Sicily, complete with observation windows through which she could study the argonauts undisturbed. Every day, she prepared food for them, rowed her boat to the cages in her long skirts, and knelt at the platform, observing for hours on end.

But long skirts and long hours in cold water make not for a felicitous scientist. And so, in order to transfer her observations and experiments ashore, Jeanne Villepreux-Power pioneered the aquarium.

more here.