The Master of Camouflage

One of the takeaways from LSM1303 I’m sure we all share is the understanding that animals utilize different mechanisms in their response to predatory attacks, be it with distinctive behaviours, signals or displays. These responses can be targeted towards the predator to deter the attack, or they may also be directed at conspecifics to evoke escape responses and thus, reducing their risk of predation.

Cephalopods are marine animals that are inclusive of squid, cuttlefish and octopus and they serve as striking examples of animals with complex responses to threats and attacks from predators. According toWood, Pennoyer and Derby (2008), Cephalopods possess sensitive mechanosensory systems that enable them to detect mechanical disturbances in water. Their sensory abilities allow Cephalopods to make quick and coordinated responses should a threat be perceived. This can be done so through the changing of shape, colour and even alter the texture of their skin structure (Budelmann, 1995)! Found below this paragraph is a link to a youtube video that showcases the camouflaging capabilities of Cephalopods that protects them from predation.

Youtube Video: Cephalopod, Master of Camouflage

As earlier mentioned, defense responses can also be targeted at conspecifics. In Neumayer and Barthel’s study of Cephalopods, they suggest that another possible antipredatory mechanism that Cephalopods use is their ink. It is believed that ink, acting as a visual alarm cue, acts as an alarm signal for conspecifics, increasing awareness of possible dangers. If you have earlier watched the Youtube video link that i had earlier recommended, you would have noticed that at approximately 00:53 minutes into the video, the Cephalopod ejects a cloud of ink in an attempt to confuse what it deems as a potential threat. Cool, isn’t it!

Oceans take up about 3 quarters of Earth’s surface but there is still so much we do not understand about our marine organisms, especially so for the deep ocean marine organisms. If you have a few minutes to spare tonight, do check out David Gallo, a marine biologist, who gave a TED talk about underwater astonishments that is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet! Nature has indeed so much more to offer to humanity!

-Samantha Loh, A0071422U


Budelmann, B. (1995). “The cephalopod nervous system: what evolution has made of the molluscan design. In: Breidbach, O., Kutsch, W. (Eds.), The Nervous Systems of Invertebrates: An Evolutionary and Comparative Approach. Birkhäuser Verlag, Switzerland, pp. 115–138.

Wood, J., Pennoyer, K., Derby, C. (2008). “Ink is a conspecific alarm cue in the Carribean reef squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea“. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 367: 11-16.