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Nature Near You highlights camouflage

By Staff | Jun 18, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Nature Near You participants learned about different types of camouflage that animals exhibit, such as this disguised walking stick insect.

The 11th week of Nature Near You, the Sanibel Sea School’s e-newsletter, featured backyard activities to learn about camouflage.

Nature Near You participants took time to learn about an important defense tactic that many animals use to blend in with their surrounding environment – camouflage. The cryptic coloring allows animals to elude predators and increases their chances of survival. Participants spent the week learning about the different types of camouflage and practiced their own camouflage skills in their backyards.

Marine Science Educator Sam Lucas introduced participants to the different types of camouflage, including mimicry, disguise and disruptive coloration. Each type of camouflage utilizes a different tactic for prey to hide from or confuse predators. For example, disruptive coloration works by breaking up the outlines of the animal. Many fish use this type of camouflage, along with tigers and zebras.

Another unique camouflage tactic is disguise. This is when animals disguise themselves to look like another object that blends in with their surroundings. A great example is an insect called the walking stick. Aptly named, the insect closely resembles a twig on a branch, making them very good at camouflaging in trees.

Lucas designed a couple of fun activities that allowed participants to explore camouflage in their own backyards. One activity was the camouflage challenge, where participants were encouraged to find a spot in their backyards and create an object to camouflage within that spot. Using some household materials, like paper or cardboard, participants were challenged to make that material blend in with the natural surroundings – it is harder than it sounds.

Next up was the “camouflage a creature” activity. Participants were able to get creative and use their imaginations to design their very own creature using one of the camouflage tactics discussed. Longtime Counselor-in-Training Abby Hendershot took on the challenge at her Ohio home and made a YouTube video to share her experience. She and her friends created a few camouflaged critters, then put the neighbors to the test finding them. Hendershot’s critters were so well camouflaged, it took everyone about 30 minutes to find them. To view her video, visit youtube.com/user/sanibelseaschool.

When we think of defense mechanisms, we typically think of more active tactics, such as having claws or teeth, or even using venom. But it is amazing how well animals have adapted to protect themselves using a more passive technique like camouflage. The Sanibel Sea School encourage everyone to take a closer look next time they are exploring their backyard – you never know who could be hiding in plain sight.

Nature Near You will continue once weekly through June and be delivered via email.

To join the mailing list, email info@sanibelseaschool.org.

The content can also be accessed at www.sanibelseaschool.org/nature-near-you.

Nature Near You is the Sanibel Sea School’s offering for the community. To help support its efforts, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org/support-the-cause or email info@sanibelseaschool.org for information.

Part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation family, the Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.