Many people have wondered whether ocean life is affected by the color of equipment snorkelers and scuba divers use. With fishing lures being consistently bright colors, it is easy to assume that the color of snorkeling equipment can be of importance as well. Are fish are attracted or deterred by any specific colors?
Colors do not appear the same way underwater as they do above it. This video by Kendall Roberg shows how color changes the deeper you swim. The deeper the colors are taken, the more muted and neutral they become, eventually turning completely grey.
Because colors change underwater so drastically, it makes you wonder if fish can see color. Ellis R. Loew with the Cornell Center for Materials Research says that goldfish can definitely see color, and many more fish have the necessary organs and systems for color vision. Because not all fish have been tested, it is impossible to know which fish species can see color and which cannot. David Ross with Midcurrent notes the vision of fish varies based on species. Fish that live in deeper water have worse eyesight than fish that live closer to the shore and in reefs. Fish may or may not be able to successfully detect color, but what they can definitely see is contrast. Light colors against the dark water in combination with their sense of smell is how fish find their food and what allows them to see the most clearly.
The factors above make it difficult to determine whether fish are affected by specific colors. We believe the exact color of your gear has no effect on attracting or deterring fish. The contrast of your gear against the water, however, might. Many factors determine the contrast-ability of your equipment, such as time of day, quality of water, shadows across the water, etc. For the most part, the lighter your gear the more contrast it will have. If you are wanting to blend in, blue or black would probably be your best bet. Otherwise, just pick your favorite color!
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