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Hiding among the weeds

The crew and research team on-board the 72ft Sea Dragon expedition ship are currently undertaking two expeditions from the Island to find out more about the Sargasso Sea.

The

Sea Dragon is operated by Pangaea Explorations, and has sailed around 50,000 miles over the last two years as part of a series of research expeditions in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

During the missions the team are sending a daily blog, with photographs, explaining what they have been doing and what they have found.

Here is the most recent update from the

Sea Dragon.

By Brandon Russell and Eric HeupelBiological camouflage is common in the oceans. Many animals hide against their background by matching its colour and patterns, particularly in floating mats of Sargassum Gulf Weed. The Sargassum Crab, Portunus says, is excellently camouflaged against the floating algae that it lives in. The crab may even be able to change colour in order to match light or dark patches of Sargassum. We are visiting Bermuda from the University of Connecticut’s Coastal Ocean Lab for Optics and Remote Sensing in order to study this remarkable animal. The Sea Dragon’s cruise through the Sargasso Sea provides a wonderful opportunity for this project.

Until recently, traditional photography and human vision were used to investigate animal camouflage. However, fish, crabs, birds, and other animals have very different eyes. A crab that is hidden from humans may be obvious to some predators. By using computer models and a special camera called a hyperspectral imager, we are evaluating how well the Sargassum Crab can hide from diverse predators, possibly including frogfish, mahi mahi, and seabirds.

For more information about this and other projects, please visit www.colors.uconn.edu

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Published June 04, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 03, 2013 at 4:08 pm)

Hiding among the weeds

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