Who Is Mimicking Who? Fish Copies Octopus Known for Copying Other Fish
This case, which scientists state they have not observed in nature before, is one for the animal kingdom soap opera. The mimic octopus copies several aquatic creatures as a means of camouflage and defense but now a fish has been seen mimicking the mimic octopus.
National Geographic reports that when Godehard Kopp, a researcher with University of Göttingen in Germany, was diving in Indonesian water he saw yellow-and-black striped fish swimming next to the similarly colored mimic octopus.
Kopp filmed what he saw and sent it to biologists Luiz Rocha and Rich Ross at the California Academy of Sciences. Here’s what they thought:
“We’ve never seen anything like that before,” Rocha said.
Jawfish normally stay hidden in ocean burrows, avoiding predators. “I’ve never seen one swimming in the open,” Rocha said.
But the jawfish in the video, wiggling its body “almost like a tentacle,” closely follows the mimic octopus for at least a quarter of an hour—filming was cut short after 15 minutes, when Kopp had to come up for air.
Watch the footage of the small jawfish hanging out around the tentacles of the mimic octopus:
According to The Guardian, the scientists believe the jawfish is exhibiting a case of “opportunistic mimicry” as it seeks out food or another burrow in which to hide. Scientists explain this is the first case of mimicry observed in jawfish.
The Guardian explains that the mimic octopus was identified rather recently in 1998 and is known to copy sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, jellyfish, sea anemones and mantis shrimp. Here the mimic octopus shows off its skills:
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