Picassos of the sea

Humans aren’t the only ones with artistic inclinations. Here are three marine friends who are equally ‘arty-farty’.

1. Decorator crabs

decorator crab
Can you tell there are 3 decorator crabs here? We think we know what their favourite colours are by the sea sponges they use to decorate themselves with.

Decorator crabs, also called carrier crabs or dresser crabs, have Velcro-like hair on their shells and legs to hold almost anything up on their backs, such as sea sponges and even sea urchins. Apart from camouflage purposes, it is also for self-defense. These crabs are known to select items with a pungent smell or contain noxious chemicals to ward off predators.

Here’s an amusing video of decorator crabs “playing dress-up”:

2. Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

The Giant Pacific Octopus has been observed to decorate their dens with objects found lying around the ocean floor or remnants of their meals, such as shells of mollusks and crabs. These “works of art” are also known as “midden heaps”, which are thought to protect their dens from external threats.

When searching for octopus in the sea, divers tend to look out for “midden heaps” which often lead them to their secret dens.

Here’s another interesting fact: did you know that the song “Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles was inspired by this creature’s “artistic” habits? This was what the late Ringo Starr said in a 1981 interview:

“[A ship captain] told me all about octopuses — how they go ‘round the sea bed and pick up stones and shiny objects and build gardens. I thought, ‘How fabulous!’ because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea, too.”

3. Pufferfish

pufferfish
This pufferfish is one of our aquarium residents. Picture by Boon Ping, aquarist at S.E.A. Aquarium

It appears that love brings out the artists in some fish. In 1995, divers noticed mysterious “underwater crop circles” on the seafloor off Japan. It was only about a decade later that the creators of these remarkable formations were found: a new species of pufferfish.

According to the study published on 1 July 2013 in the journal Scientific Reports, the circles are actually nests created by male pufferfish, which spend about ten days carefully constructing and decorating the structures to woo females. And this is how the amazing masterpiece is created:

Come check out these ‘arty-farty’ marine creatures at S.E.A. Aquarium.

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