SQUID CAMOUFLAGE WOULD APPEAR TO BE A TOUGH CHALLENGE. Squids’ cephalopod cousins, like bottom-dwelling octopuses and cuttlefishes, can disappear by blending in with the nearest coral.
As free swimmers, squids have to find a way to hide out in the midst of open water. So the question is, how do squids manage their colors to disappear in plain sight?
IT’S ALL IN THE IRIDOPHORES
As it turns out, as explained by the folks behind PBS’ terrific DEEP LOOK series, squids are able to control the way light bounces off their skin to mirror the interplay of light, water and waves as it filters down into the water column.
Squids control their coloration through iridophores, organs in their skin that contain iridescent pigment cells. DEEP LOOK’S “You’re Not Hallucinating. That’s Just Squid Skin” explains the mechanism vividly and takes the question a step further.
SQUID CAMOUFLAGE MECHANISMS
The video follows researchers at Stanford University who wanted to know whether squid camouflage is a voluntary or a reflex action – that is, controlled or automatic.
As it developed, the answer is probably: Both.
PRINCIPAL SOURCE: “You’re Not Hallucinating. That’s Just Squid Skin,” DEEP LOOK, PBS Digital Studios.