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  • Tuesday 16th July 2019


SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium called in the colour experts to discuss the evolution of colours in animals

The animal kingdom is a complex world with diverse relationships and a fascinating reliance on colour - for survival, camouflage and also to attract the opposite sex.

We called in Dr Zena O’Connor, from The Colour Collective to work alongside our Octopus Keeper and Expert, Robbie McCraken to discuss the clever use of colour by marine animals such as Clownfish and the resident Octopus, Veronica to evade predators and blend into their surroundings.

Robbie McCraken, Octopus Keeper and Expert here at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, said: “Cephalopods such as Octopus are one of the few animals in the world that can change the colour of their skin in the blink of an eye. They can also change their skin tone to match their surroundings, rendering them nearly invisible or alternatively it can provide them with a pattern that helps them stand out.

“Octopus’ are incredibly intelligent animals so we engage in regular enrichment activities with Veronica to stimulate her physically and mentally. Today we introduced Veronica to a new jar which presents new challenges and sparks her interest. The colour change that we witnessed here can be attributed to her curiosity in the new object.”

Dr Zena O’Connor says, “When the jar was introduced to her tank, Veronica performed a dramatic colour change that enabled her to blend in with her environment. It’s a really amazing sight and a fabulous form of colour camouflage. Similarly, Clownfish feature strong, bright colours that enable them to mimic their tropical environments and blend in with their surroundings. Their colours are key to their survival.”

Robbie added: “The reason that Clownfish are such bright and beautiful colours is relatively unknown but one theory is that it’s a defence for them - telling their predators or enemies that they live inside something that might be dangerous - this sends a message to them to say ‘don’t come near my house’. Corals are bright, fluorescent and beautiful and this is the reason that fish are so colourful. They need to be as it helps them blend in, it helps them hunt and mate. Colour itself plays such an important role in a tropical reef.”

We are inviting guests to venture through he aquarium this July and experience a ‘Colourful Creatures’ journey like no other. Guests can create their own adventure storybook based on their own encounters and experiences through the aquarium.