“Camouflage” is a fascinating behavior that many Lembeh animals partake in as they take on the characteristics of an unrelated, inanimate object, simply hoping to go unnoticed by predators. Juvenile Orbicular Batfish are a perfect example of such a critter. Lacking toxins or venomous spines, they spend their juvenile months perfectly camouflaged as fallen leaves as they float about in small schools under the piers and oyster-farms of Lembeh. What would otherwise be a small, tasty morsel for a passing predator is dismissed as an uninteresting, inedible leaf. As the Orbicular Batfish reaches a more formidable size (topping out around 28cm/11in), they no longer depend on camouflage and transform into a completely different looking fish!
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This type of camouflage is referred to as “Mimesis Camouflage”. Animals that don’t blend in with their surroundings practice mimesis camouflage by simply trying to appear as uninteresting as possible. The Robust Ghost Pipefish is a fascinating critter that practices mimesis camouflage: It takes on the appearance of a swaying piece of sea grass as it lives out its days on the open, sandy flats of Lembeh. Mimesis camouflage may save the Robust Ghost Pipefish from predation, but it only makes it that much more fascinating to divers and photographers!
We will be delving further into the art of Camouflage and Mimicry in upcoming Lembeh blogs, and would love to hear from you, our readers, regarding this topic.
Can you think of other marine animals from Lembeh that practice this specific form of camouflage? Remember, if an animal is practicing Mimesis Camouflage it is not trying to blend in with the background, but is simply trying to be ignored by potential predators.