Hidden Gems

Peer into ocean and observe the life at a coral reef-what can you see? Several
fish scattering and a plethora of coral? Look closer and you may see more
animals than you would think! Camouflage is an important part of many animals’
lives, including the octopus, and is caused by cells called chromatophores.
One octopus can have tens of thousands of them and every cell has three
different containers of color and63 relax and contract to spread the color.
Each chromatophore is directly controlled by the nervous system, allowing the
octopus to change color within seconds.87 Iridophores are cells on the surface
of the skin that add to the dramatic appearance by reflecting the nearby
surroundings.107 An octopus also has papillae on its exterior which become
raised or flattened to mimic textures within the environment.136 These three
components help the octopus to blend, so next time, look carefully!

Christina Shajenko, ORCA foundation

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