Watch how these incredible squid camouflage with water in plain sight

Squid camouflage
Video screen capture Deep Look/YouTube

Underwater invisibility cloak? Check.

Some people go weak in the knees for cats, most people love dogs. Me? I swoon for octopuses, cuttlefish and squid. Call me a cephalopod-ophile if you must, but this group of marine mollusks are not only the smartest of all invertebrates, but they have so many groovy tricks that they obviously must be magicians.

Octopuses can transform themselves into the epitome of coral and rock and become so indiscernible that it's almost unsettling. They do this using tiny organs in their skin called chromatophores, which are like little pigment-filled balloons. When muscles pull on these sacs the pigment expands or contracts as needed to become one with their surroundings.

But squid don't have the luxury of needing to camouflage with the easy-to-hide-in ocean floor. They often live in the open ocean, and how does one hide oneself in water?

Hannah Rosen, a PhD candidate at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, has been studying just how they perform this particular feat. Squid have developed the remarkable talent of adjusting the iridescence of their skin. They use cells called iridophores which make structural color by employing shape to reflect wavelengths of light. So effective are squid in manipulating light and color that they can even mimic the way sunlight streams through water from the surface. Their skin becomes an invisibility cloak of sorts, the type of trick that humans have been trying to conquer for years.

The incredible video below shows the wizardry of celaphod skin in close-up detail, pulling back the curtain for a brief glimpse of just some of the magic these creatures can perform.

Tags: Animals | Fish | Nature Blows My Mind | Oceans


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