Deep-dwelling sea creatures, and the cultures that love them. That could be the tagline for a new show set to open next month at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif. It combines live specimens of squid, octopus and other little-seen cephalopods with examples of ancient pottery and modern literature that reflect the cultural bond humans have had with these sea dwellers for centuries.

Giant Pacific octopus, Hawaiian bobtail squid, chambered nautilus, wunderpus and other species will be rotating through "Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefish." It opens April 12.

Known collectively as cephalopods, these creatures change shape and color to avoid detection. "We're trying to display something that doesn't want to be seen," aquarist Alicia Bitondo says in a statement about the show.

Indeed, the $3.5-million exhibition displays a school of bigfin reef squid, which hail from Indonesian waters and measure almost a foot each, and the pinky-red giant Pacific octopus,  the largest of the species, which can grow to 16 feet. The display includes plenty of smaller species too, and will showcase work done in the aquarium's egg labs where creatures like these are raised in captivity.

But there's much made by man in this exhibition too. Thousands of years ago, the Minoans decorated their pottery with images of sea creatures. Reproductions of the pottery and other items -- a Roman mosaic from Pompeii that features an octopus -- as well as Victorian illustrations, are on display with paintings and sculptures, and even Jules Verne's 19th-century "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."

The exhibition is included in admission, which costs $39.95 for adults and $24.95 for children 3 to 12 years old.

Info: Monterey Bay Aquarium, (831) 648-4800

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
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