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Octopus' Amazing Camouflage Skills Caught on Camera

Feb 06, 2015 05:31 PM EST

(Photo : Jonathan Gordon/YouTube)

In what can be described as a case of the blues, one amazing octopus in the Caribbean is showing off its amazing camouflage skills, the rare phenomenon caught entirely on camera.

Snorkeler Jonathan Gordon was diving in Caribbean waters, minding his own business when he accidentally stumbled upon - and scared - an unsuspecting octopus hidden in the sand.

"This guy took me completely by surprise while snorkeling in the Caribbean," he wrote in the video's description on YouTube. "I dove down to have a look at the shell that you can see just under where the octopus appears and as I approached the octopus came out of hiding. I had literally no idea he was there until I was about a meter away."

In the footage, this remarkable octopus transforms itself from a dirty brown color that lets it blend in perfectly with the reef into a bright electric blue, looking somewhat like and alien blob.

It's no secret that octopuses are masters of camouflage, but you would think that when they sense danger they would want to blend in more, not stand out. However, in this case it appears the octopus thought it was worth the risk to issue a warning as if to say "back off." Lucky for us, Gordon didn't get the hint to move on.

Using a network of pigment cells (called chromatophore cells) and specialized muscles in its skin, an octopus can almost instantaneously match the colors, patterns, and even textures of its surroundings. This technique is extremely effective in helping it avoid or thwart attackers, such as sharks, eels and dolphins.

Octopuses aren't the only ones that can camouflage themselves underwater; others include the cuttlefish and squid.

According to the Daily Mail, scientists still aren't sure exactly how octopuses and others know what the color of the background they're hiding against is. It's possible they can detect slight contrasts in colors by filtering it through their body, or maybe proteins in their skin and eyes are responsible. It could also be the result of natural selection.

Whatever the reason, it seems to be working for them.

Another way they ward off predators is by spraying black ink in their attacker's face, giving them time to swim away. And if all else fails, these clever creatures can even lose an arm to escape a predator's grasp and regrow it later with no permanent damage.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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