Why this adorable hatching octopus suddenly turned purple

Last night, a strange video appeared on Twitter: it looks like some sort of deep sea bloom — but then a tiny octopus squirts out and zooms away, changing colors from white to purple. What exactly are we seeing here?

The video, posted by the Virginia Aquarium, shows a baby Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus) no bigger than a pinky nail hatching from a bundle of eggs. As for the color change, these octopuses are known to be masters of disguise. “It was going into an instant camouflage as soon as it came out of the egg,” says Julie Levans, senior curator at the aquarium. These octopuses use specialized muscles to open and close little sacs of pigment in their skin called chromatophores — and this little guy was probably responding to…

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