• Missey Dee

The Mimic Octopus -Thaumoctopus Mimicus

This species of cephalopod, recently discovered in 1998 (Sulawesi, Indonesia) lives in shallow sandy bottoms, close to river mouths, within exposed habitats full of predators. This master impersonator spends a great deal of its time hiding out in burrows or foraging along the sandy bottom, using its drab mottled brown colours as camouflage. As long as they do not move too much, their camouflage technique seems to work well. Animal vision is often fooled by camouflaging colours, until that image starts to move that is. This shrewd octopus has a brilliant solution to this problem, they are able to take on the appearance and behaviour of bad tasting and venomous creatures to avoid hopeful predators. What is amazing about these animals is that most animals mimic just one animal to avoid predation but the mimic octopus is gifted with a whole repertoire of impersonations. Like all great actors, the mimic octopus caters to its audience. When faced with predators these crafty creatures can change their colour and shape of their body, switching from one impersonation to another in the blink of an eye. To mimic the toxic sea snake, this shape shifter will burrow its head and six of its tentacles into a hole. Taking on a black and white colour, it twists its remaining limbs in opposite directions imitating the movements of a snake. To mimic the lionfish, the mimic octopus hovers above the ocean floor, with its tentacles spread wide, trailing behind its body to imitate the lionfish’s poisonous fins. One thing that the ‘costumes’ all have in common is that each one is distinctly deadly or inedible. These cunning actors have figured out that by impersonating more threatening animals they are free to move around their underwater home without fear. May I present to you, the Mimic Octopus, the world's greatest master of disguise.

Written by: Angela Warrior (@Pure Sea Mexico)

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