The Mimic Octopus
The mimic octopus is named for its stunning ability to mimic
not one, but at least three dangerous animals that share its
tropical ocean home. it can strike poses and change colors
to make itself look like a venomous lionfish, a venomous
sea snake, and a poisonous fish called the banded sole.
Like other octopuses, the mimic octopus can easily
change the shape and color of its rubbery body. many octopuses
use these abilities to camouflage themselves, squeeze
into hiding places, and communicate with one another. the
mimic octopus, however, is the first species known to imitate
dangerous sea creatures to defend itself.
To imitate the sole, the octopus pulls its eight arms
together into a wedge-shaped bundle and jets forward.
this makes it look like a flat-bodied sole rippling through
the water. to mimic a lionfish, the octopus spreads out
its arms and lets them dangle so that they look like the
lionfish’s venomous, flared fins. it mimics a sea snake by
changing its brown and white stripes to black and yellow,
then tucking most of its body and all but two of its arms
into a burrow. the two exposed arms wriggle and squirm
like writhing sea snakes.
The mimic’s performances have been caught on film.
researchers suspect that the octopus may mimic stingrays,
jellyfish, and other sea animals.