Robotic Spy Cuttlefish Changes Colors to Communicate With Real Cuttlefish

A robotic spy cuttlefish by John Downer Productions navigated the delicate balance of cuttlefish society using its sophisticated digital chromatophores to change colors according to proper social morés in a fascinating clip from the David Tennant-narrated BBC/PBS series Spy in the Ocean.

Spy Cuttlefish takes the title of the most sophisticated Spy ever made; its integrated screen can replicate the changing patterns of real cuttlefish. Giant cuttlefish wear their emotions on their sleeve, or skin to be more accurate. and so does our Spy.

The spy also plays a gentle trick on a hostile male, changing its colors to appear female.

When Spy Cuttlefish shows the patterns of a male it is treated with hostility and rivalry, yet when it switches to the patterns of a female it becomes an object of desire among the males. Spy Cuttlefish must rely on its in-built communication skills to disentangle itself from the complexities of cuttlefish courtship.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.