Most of us love cephalopods, and will never get tired of seeing them whilst diving. It is well known that Octopus, Squids and Cuttlefish are able to change colour and sometimes even skin texture by will! Today we are going to explain both how and why this happens.

Cephalopods have something called chromatophores that lie just underneath the surface of their skin. Chromatophores are cells that are connected to the nervous system of the animal. The chromatophore contains an elastic sac full of pigment, which can be expanded or contracted. Their size is determined by muscular contractions, and so by controlling the size of these cells, cephalopods are able to vary their colour and even create changing patterns! Since these cells are connected to the nervous system, the changes are almost instantaneous. Cephalopods are believed to have very well developed eyes, which can detect different colours and the intensity of light which will help them create different effects depending on what they are after.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish displaying some beautiful bright colours to scare away predators!

In some instances, this colour changing ability is a great defense mechanism. Suddenly turning into a bright colour against a plain background will tell predators “Do not eat me, I am dangerous!”. Since the colour change can be so quick it does a great job of looking intimidating. It can also be used as a way of hunting. Some species of Cuttlefish for example, will hunt by spreading their arms and tentacles in front of them, and “project” a colour changing pattern that almost hypnotizes their prey!

A famous inhabitant here in Lembeh is the Mimic Octopus. They have a very unique way of using these chromatophores, as they will pretend to be other types of marine life. It has been known to change its colour and body shape to mimic more than 15 different marine species, for example Lionfish, Flounders (this mimicry we are lucky to see quite often in Lembeh as they skirt over the ocean floor!) or Sea kraits.

Mimic Octopus

Cephalopods also use this ability to mate. There are species of Squid that will actually display two different behaviors at once. For example, if they have a female on their left side which they wish to court only the Squids left side will turn a different colour. Its right side will be displaying a certain colour to repel other males!

Juvenile Squid

We mentioned previously that cephalopods also can change the texture of their skin. This is quite a common behavior and goes hand in hand with changing colour, as it is a great way to blend in with your surroundings. They can match their skin texture to rocks, corals and algae for example. They are able to do this by controlling the size of the projections on their skin, which is called papillae. They can be smooth, have small bumps or turn into long spikes, whatever they need to suit their environment!

Cephalopods are such interesting, intelligent creatures and we get to see them almost on a daily basis here in Lembeh! Now the next time you spot once, you will know a bit more about how their camouflaging ability works!

Algae Octopus using its papillae for camouflage!

Why Dive with NAD-Lembeh Resort?


NAD-Lembeh Resort is a small, owner-operated, photography-oriented dive resort in the Lembeh Strait. We are situated in a private bay on Lembeh Island, away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. We guarantee a 2:1 guest to guide ratio as standard, which makes for a private dive experience and lots of time to take pictures.


All our rooms (10 Beachfront Rooms, 5 Seaview Bungalows) offer ocean view, air conditioning, hot water, wifi, including full board. Our resort has only few steps, which makes our layout extremely convenient to get from your room to the restaurant, camera room, bar and floating jetty.


Our dive team consists of 15 full-time guides, with over 100 years of combined experience! Air as well as Nitrox and various cylinder sizes (both DIN and Yoke are available onsite).


NAD-Lembeh has 4 large, purpose-built dive boats. Each at around 15m long, they offer lots of space and comfort for the divers. Boats feature onboard toilets, towels, drinks and snacks and first aid/ oxygen.

Our jetty allows our guests dignified and quick boat entries – all our dive boats can be moored simultaneously, so there is no wading through the shallows to get on the boat for the dive!


Our focus at NAD is to take your underwater photography to the next level. We offer 1:1 photo classes and our guides are all proficient with photography, using our rental equipment for fun dives when not diving with guests.

We shoot video up to 8K, along with Nikon/ Canon SLR and mirrorless setups. This gives us a rounded knowledge of all cameras. We are also the go-to location for natural history filming in the Straits.


Our newly renovated, huge camera room offers one work space for each and every guest. The spacious, individual benches with lots of power points were purposely built for underwater photographers. NAD’s dedicated camera room is also the perfect place to work on and edit your pictures.

Several rental cameras and strobes are available onsite. We have basic tools and spare parts in our gift shop in case of minor camera problems as well as a drying cabinet, and computer for you to work on and edit your photos.