Copycat fish copying mimic octopus caught on film explained (Video)

By on Jan 7, 2012 in Animals, Asia, Science Comments

A copycat fish was captured on film copying a mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) in the diving area of Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia last July, as shown in the video below, with scientists explaining the phenomenon.

Copycat fish (at red arrow) and mimic octopus
Image Credit: Godehard Kopp video

As noted by Live Science on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, researcher Godehard Kopp of the University of Gottingen in Germany spotted the jawfish copying the mimic octopus, which is capable of copying a fish.

Kopp, who filmed the copycat jawfish in action and whose study appeared in the December issue of the Corral Reef journal, sent his evidence to experts at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco for further evaluation.

According to the report, the mimic octopus can change its shape, movements and color to impersonate toxic lionfish, flatfish as well as sea snakes, which allows it to swim in the open a bit safer from predators.

On the other hand, the black-marble jawfish (Stalix histrio) is a small, timid fish that spends most of its adult life close to a sand burrow that serves as its safe place once a predator is on its way.

Apparently, the recent discovery showed the jawfish appeared to disguising as among of the tentacles of the mimic octopus by blending its color with that of the octopus, allowing it to safely search for food.

“All jawfish are really specialized for living in burrows. They’re almost never found outside their burrows.” Researcher Luiz Rocha, an ichthyologist at the California Academy of Sciences, was quoted on the report.

“This is a unique case in the reefs not only because the model for the jawfish is a mimic itself, but also because this is the first case of a jawfish involved in mimicry,” Rocha was quoted on BBC News on Friday, January 6.

Jawfish, copying a mimic octopus
Video Credit: reeffish10/YouTube/Godehard Kopp

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