context is everything

Emperor Penguins

Who doesn’t like penguins? I’ve always loved them, but I hadn’t learned until very recently about how they’re camouflaged.

When swimming, their predominantly white bellies help them blend in with a reflective water surface when seen from from below by predators such as orca whales or leopard seals. When seen from above, their dark backs naturally blend with the darker water below.

I’m struck by the cleverness of this ruse, a little object lesson in thinking contextually, and how even the most high contrast combination can help something stay hidden under the right circumstances. Context is everything.

Eric Shew is a graphic designer and front end developer living in Bellingham, Washington.

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