Can a cuttlefish disappear in a living room?

A cuttlefish is a common sea animal with an amazing ability to change appearance. Are there any limits to this ability? Watch this video to find out.

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. You can also read the transcript.

Transcript

The cuttlefish has taken camouflage to the next level. They can change their colour, shape and texture to blend in with the background. It’s hard to believe it, looking at these pictures, but all these cuttlefish are exactly the same species. They’re simply changing their appearance, depending on what’s around them. It’s called ‘adaptive camouflage’ and it’s perfect for hiding from both predators and prey.

But can the cuttlefish adapt to anything?

Really, you must applaud the cuttlefish for its amazing ability to blend into its surroundings. But, how clever is that, really? I mean, vanishing amongst things that are around it all the time. It’s one thing for a cuttlefish to camouflage itself against seaweed, sand, pebbles and stuff like that. But how would they fare camouflaging themselves against something a bit more complicated? Something a bit like this!

(curtains open)

Yeah, I know, it’s hardly Grand Designs. But I’ve gone for this rather lurid décor for good reason: I want to see how the cuttlefish tackle something a bit more challenging, so I’ve chosen stripes, chessboard and some old-style chintz.

OK, time to see how they cope.

(the cuttlefish enters the tank)

Let’s get our cuttlefish settled in and dim down the lights.

He’s having a look at it.

And he’s gone straight for the big one: the chequerboard flooring. And amazingly, I think he’s having a crack at it.

There’s definitely the beginnings of a chequerboard there. He’s not quite lined up right, but, you know, still impressive.

Right, what next? Zebra-skin rug? Now he’s improvising.

Let’s get him back to the task in hand. Now that’s more like it! He’s blending into the chaise longue a treat. But notice one thing: he’s not camouflaged with what he can see in front of him, he’s camouflaged with what’s underneath him.

© BBC

Discussion

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Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Fri, 23/04/2021 - 14:39

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Again, amazing...and it’s my big question! ;)

Submitted by nikoslado on Sat, 02/05/2020 - 16:28

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Dear Team, please have a look in Task 1, second line, about the right answer.I chose the ''false'', but it was considered as wrong... I mean the text refers "for hiding from both predators and prey"....It means not to be eaten by a big fish but also to eat itself other smaller fish...Therefore the right answer should be ''False''.Am I right? Thanks a lot Nikoslado

Hello Nikoslado,

The answer would be false if the sentence said something like 'uses camouflage only so that...'. As it is, the answer is true. The fact that the cuttlefish also uses camouflage for another purpose does not make the statement false.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 00:23

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Wow.... what an interesting experiment!
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