Ode to the Octopus

Forget our obsession with being noticed. A glimpse at the natural world reveals that there’s a lot to be said for passing unnoticed.

February 12, 2015

“Throughout the natural world, the capacity for camouflage and the ability to recede into the background come with lavish beauty and biological aplomb. Consider the arctic foxes and hares that turn white before snowfall. Or the baroque patterning of Indonesian crabs that mimic the coral in which they live. Or the octopus with cells beneath its skin that can change color to simulate that of the surrounding marine life. You could call these all extravaganzas of obscurity. They also propose that becoming invisible, whether it is in color or behavior, is not the equivalent of being nonexistent, a lesson the human species seems to resist.”

—From “How to Be Invisible,” Akiko Busch’s New York Times story about the virtues of passing unnoticed, and the importance of reflecting on the knowledge that we’re part of the larger world (and causing major disruptions in the natural environment)

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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