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The weedy scorpionfish hides between corals, sponges and sea squirts.

German Oceanographic Museum, Foundation German Oceanographic Museum

German Oceanographic Museum, Foundation German Oceanographic Museum

The art of perfect camouflage

They are fish, but look like drifting seaweed, like a spotted vegetable that happens to have fallen into the water, like painted, algae covered rocks or a floating ball of silk thread. They can also described very differently, because their shapes and colours somehow never remain the same and certainly do not fit the normal image of a classic fish. The human eye sometimes has to try really hard to perceive these animals, which are perfectly adapted to their environment, at all. Looking at these bizarre creatures closer and in detail they are beautiful, not just because they do not look like "normal" fish, but because they appear to be idiosyncratic, almost artistic creations of nature.

As whimsical as their appearance are the names of those unusual tropical fish. There is the Weedy scorpionfish - an ambush predator, hiding between corals, sponges and sea squirts. Or the Harlequin ghost pipefish, who with its numerous frilly growths finds perfect camouflage between algae, sea fan corals or feather stars. The Painted frogfish seeks the proximity of sponges and resembles a misshapen stone, in which it is difficult to distinguish the front from the back. The Chinese devilfish, finally, is a well adapted sea-floor fish, waiting motionless for its prey. The rays of its dorsal fins are poisonous and it is called "the guzzler" in its homeland, because it does not hesitate to take a big bite.

In two small show aquaria at the MEERESMUSEUM you can see these miraculous phenomena of the seas easily from up close.

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  • Title: The weedy scorpionfish hides between corals, sponges and sea squirts.
  • Location: Deutsches Meeresmuseum, Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum
  • Rights: photo: Johannes-Maria Schlorke

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