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Polarization vision helps detect transparent prey

Abstract

Transparency enables aquatic organisms to avoid detection by visual predators. But we have found that this camouflage can be broken using a visual mode evolved by several predators, such as squid. Under partially linearly polarized lighting, squid detect zooplankton prey at a distance 70% greater than those achieved under non-polarized illumination. The role of polarization sensitivity in predation is confirmed by squid's preference for transparent, yet polarization-active, targets that mimic their prey.

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Figure 1: Adult squid choices of glass beads that mimicked prey.

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Shashar, N., Hanlon, R. & Petz, A. Polarization vision helps detect transparent prey. Nature 393, 222–223 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/30380

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