Seventh and Ninth-time return guests to the region were excited by their first Cryptic Shrimp sighting in Lembeh this week! These cool little critters so perfectly resemble the sponge they inhabit that they are nearly impossible to differentiate from their background. The Cryptic Shrimp’s innate ability to perfectly blend in with its surroundings is a type of crypsis camouflage: an animal’s natural-born ability to visually blend in with its habitat in order to avoid predation.
Cryptic Shrimp aren’t the only critters who exhibit crypsis camouflage. Decorator Crabs also use crypsis camouflage in order to remain hidden, but instead of being born camouflaged they have to actively decorate themselves with bits and pieces of their surrounding environment in order to attain concealment. Some Decorator Crabs decorate their carapace with sponge, others with pieces of algae, and so on. In most cases their choice decoration continues to grow once attached to the animal, making for crabs carrying the most unruly sponges and others with complete gardens growing from their rostrums. Can you think of any other animals you’ve seen in Lembeh that use crypsis by decoration in order to become camouflaged?
Finally, there is a whole collection of animals that can quickly and dramatically shift the color and texture of their skin in order to successfully camouflage themselves. Lembeh’s Flamboyant Cuttlefish is a perfect example of an animal that employs this third type of crypsis Camouflage. If you have seen a Flamboyant Cuttlefish flash its warning colors of yellow, white and red you might not think it blends in with its environment very well, but if you were to stumble across one before a dive guide got to it, you would be absolutely amazed at the ability of the chromatophores in their skin to so perfectly take on both the color and the texture of the dark, sandy, Lembeh substrate, making them nearly impossible to see.
Also spotted in Lembeh this week: First Manta Ray in many, many years (!), Hairy and Shaggy Frogfish intermingling, a mated pair of Robust and Rough snout Ghost Pipefish, female Ornate Ghost pipefish aerating a clutch of eggs, Kaloplocamus acutus Nudibranch, undescribed Trapania species, Hypselodoris bullocki sitting on its egg-spiral, and Ambon Scorpionfish galore amongst the usual Lembeh critter-cast.