A fish-eye view of cuttlefish camouflage using in-situ spectrometry

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2013
Authors:R. T. Hanlon, Chiao, C. C., Mäthger, L. M., Marshall, N. J.
Journal:Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Keywords:camouflage, color, cuttlefish, Sepia apama, spectrometer, spectrometry

Cuttlefish are colour blind yet they appear to produce colour-coordinated patterns for camouflage. Under natural in situ lighting conditions in southern Australia, we took point-by-point spectrometry measurements of camou- flaged cuttlefish, Sepia apama, and various natural objects in the immediate visual surrounds to quantify the degree of chromatic resemblance between cuttlefish and backgrounds to potential fish predators. Luminance contrast was also calculated to determine the effectiveness of cuttlefish camouflage to this information channel both for animals with or without colour vision. Uniform body patterns on a homogeneous background of algae showed close resemblance in colour and luminance; a Uniform pattern on a partially heterogeneous background showed mixed levels of resemblance to certain background features. A Mottle pattern with some disruptive components on a heterogeneous background showed general background resemblance to some benthic objects nearest the cuttlefish. A noteworthy observation for a Disruptive body pattern on a heterogeneous background was the wide range in spectral contrasts compared to Uniform and Mottle patterns. This suggests a shift in camouflage tactic from background resemblance (which hinders detection by the predator) to more specific object resemblance and disruptive camouflage (which retards recognition).

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith