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‘Blur like a sotong’ is an expression that many Singaporeans would be familiar with, sotong being the Malay word for squid. Literally translated it is ‘blur like squid’. The expression is used to refer to someone who always seems lost and unsure what to do.

We aren’t sure how the expression came about or why the squid is used to represent someone who is constantly confused or inept but we do know that it does not apply to the squid in real life. In fact, rather than being confused, cephalopods (a class of mollusks that squids are part of) are the ones who usually confuse the hunters and predators. Cephalopods have a fantastic capacity for camouflage which they use to their advantage to get out of tricky situations. Colour changing cells called chromatophores found just beneath the skin give them this almost surreal quality. The chromatophores are also used to communicate. For example, some squids having the ability to change colours to attract a female or to repel another male.

The octopus (also a cephalopod) can change the texture of its skin to blend in with its surroundings. The ability of the octopus to control the size of projections on its skin called papillae means that it can easily make itself to look like surrounding corals to escape detection.

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Let the octopus show you what it can do https://youtu.be/eS-USrwuUfA

The octopus is also a master escape artist who can squeeze through impossibly small openings to escape.

Follow this link to watch the octopus execute a seemingly impossible escape. https://youtu.be/9yHIsQhVxGM

So next time someone calls you a ‘sotong’, maybe (just maybe), they mean that you have capabilities that make you special 😊

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