A knack for imitation can be handy for an aspiring comedian … or a sea creature looking to survive.
That's the lesson in the latest installment of The Aquatic World with Philippe Cousteau, the ocean conservationist's new online video series from CNN offshoot Great Big Story. This time, Cousteau and his red-capped crew skip the Campari and set course for Southeast Asia, home of the mimic octopus — an eight-armed impersonator of other sea life.
"I've dedicated my life to studying the ocean," Cousteau says. "But sometimes you come across something so marvelous, you have to wonder, 'What the heck is going on down here?' "
Scientists identified the mimic octopus in the 1990s, in the shallow waters off Indonesia. They soon found the 2-foot creature can do more impressions than Seth McFarlane. Like other octopus species, it can change color to blend into the background — but the mimic octopus also scares off predators by striking poses that copy the behavior of more dangerous neighbors, like lionfish or poisonous sea snakes. "This allows the mimic octopus to hide in plain sight," says Cousteau.