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  • Fish use colouring and camouflage to disguise themselves. This adaptation helps the fish blend in with their surroundings.

    In this activity, students explore some of the adaptations fish use for camouflage. There are two options – marine fish and native freshwater fish.

    The marine version uses fish living in Antarctic waters. The article Week 3: Diversity of Ross Sea fish has information about Antarctic fish habitats.

    The freshwater version uses native fish living in Aotearoa. The interactive Native freshwater fish has information about native fish and their preferred habitats. Tūtaki mai ki ētahi o Ngā ika taketake wai māori o Aotearoa, ā, ākona hoki ētahi kōrero mō ngā ika nei me ngā puni kaiao e pai nei rātou.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • describe why fish use camouflage
    • explain some fish camouflage adaptations.

    Download the Word files (see link below) for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do
    • student handout.

    Related content

    New Zealand’s freshwater fish – introduction curates resources in te reo Māori and English.

    The article Wetland animals looks at the role of eels in a wetland ecosystem.

    The New Zealand longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) is New Zealand’s only endemic freshwater eel.

    Other articles about tuna (eels)

    The citizen science project Spyfish Aotearoa wants your help to discover, count and identify fish species that live in our marine reserves.

    Humans also use camouflage – discover how the properties of light or other waves, such as reflection, scattering or refraction, are used to hide people and items.

    Activity idea

    This activity supports students to use resource materials to identify the features of a variety of New Zealand freshwater species.

    Useful link

    This National Geographic article How to be invisible looks at what we can learn from the way various species use different forms of disguise to hide from those who want to eat them – or to better ambush their prey


    We acknowledge the assistance of NIWA and the IPY Voyage scientists who supplied images for marine fish version of this activity.

    The native freshwater fish version of this activity was developed by Krysia Nowak, an educator with the Department of Conservation’s Taupō for Tomorrow.

      Published 3 December 2007, Updated 21 October 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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