Mimetism and camouflaged are the arts that use species such as cuttlefish or sea dragon to escape predators such as shark or ray.
The masters of camouflaged and mimetism are without a doubt the cuttlefish, who can control their pigment cells at will, depending on the situation and their mood. A very useful skill when the predators are out on patrol, ready to pounce at any opportunity. This is a heterodontiform, shark, specialised in detecting invertebrates hiding in the sand.
This ray is also a threat for anything that will fit in its mouth, and uses its sensors to search for food on the sea bed.
The warm-water southern seas always hold surprises, especially the experts in camouflage. It is precisely here that we will find two of the most incredible disguises in the animal kingdom.
The sea dragons live in no other place in the world. This one is a weedy sea dragon, looking for prey among the fronds.
But the apotheosis of this style is the other species that lives in these waters: the leafy sea dragon, a baroque fish, related to the sea horses. Like a madman’s dream, it proudly glides in its vertical world. By suction, it traps fish larvae and crustaceans, which die without ever knowing what it was that ate them. They are very sensitive animals: light, pressure or stress affect them enormously. Nothing in its life, which lasts for around seven years, is ordinary. Its biology is an enigma, and perhaps it is best it should remain that way.
The abundance of fish around the forests of kelp and seagrass also attract the sea lions, who soon will establish their breeding colonies in the rockiest areas.
But they must never forget that this coast is dangerous. When they dive into the water in search of their usual prey, they never go further out than strictly necessary, and always looking down into the azure depth, where the great killer lurks. The sea lions are strong animals, and excellent divers, but they try to make sure they never swim alone.
Almost all the fish that live in open waters swim in groups. Without the protection of the sea bed or the algae, the best tactic is to hide behind others, hoping that if an attack comes, you will not be the unlucky one.
Synchronising their movements thanks to the nerves running along their sides, banks of fish like these barracudas are both predators and potential prey.
But the open waters are not an easy place in which to live: Only those fortunate enough to be sufficiently large to be respected can wander alone, like shadows, filtering the only abundant food source: the tiny plankton, which this devilfish devours by the kilo.
The others, small and vulnerable, mass together, trying to form larger beings in the hope of dissuading hunters. If they are attacked, the confusion is such that it is very probable that none will be caught.
Everyone is both hunter and hunted, sea creatures of different sizes in search of food, and always an enemy somewhere close by. These species that swim with no contact with the sea bed, are called “pelagic”, and know how to make the most of the gift from the Antarctic. However, these waters are not equally welcoming to all.