Have you ever wondered how fish in the middle of the open ocean are able to avoid predators despite the lack of a background to camouflage into?
According to a journal entry in Science, researchers have long studied the effects of silvery scales of ocean fish, and found that their ability to reflect light has something to do with their unique ability to stay hidden, even in the middle of nowhere in the ocean.
Of course, other predators also have exceedingly powerful underwater vision that helps make them better predators, so who wins in a face-off? The one with super vision, or the one with the best camouflage?
According to a study published in Current Biology, fish who have effective silvery scales on their skin are still very effective at hiding from predators in the open ocean, even those with above-average eyesight.
These scales basically reflect light in a polarized fashion, and that reflected light creates optical illusions that make predators often unaware that a fish of prey is swimming around.
The scientists involved in the study used a special polarization vision-enabled camera under water to see whether or not they would have any luck seeing fish from 6-10 feet away, and they found that it wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be based on what we originally believed.
Some animals, including octopus and squid, have the special kind of polarization vision capability already built right into their eyeballs that is supposed to let them see these kinds of things. It’s an evolutionary trait that is believed to have been acquired as it became more necessary to find their prey.
On the other hand, it’s not a flawless trait. It seems that the shimmer of silvery-scaled fish can still confuse even those with the most advanced sea eyes; polarization vision or not.
As a result of these findings, scientists are stumped about why some sea animals have this special vision ability. After all, it really doesn’t appear to make it any easier to spot prey.