A colony of hundreds of baby cuttlefish has gone on display at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The mini-marvels, each just under one centimetre long, were born from eggs donated by fisherman Cameron Henry from Mylor, who discovered them attached to his crab pots.
So many of the eggs have hatched that Newquay is planning to send some of the babies to their sister attractions; Bristol Aquarium and Portsmouth Blue Reef Aquarium.
The eggs were initially looked after by aquarist Jennie Youngs in Blue Reef’s Nursery area. Several dozen of them have now gone on display alongside the aquarium’s giant Pacific octopus and visitors can watch them being fed at 2pm every day.
Cuttlefish are close relatives of the octopus. Like their eight-legged cousins they can change colour and even body shape to match their moods and escape predators by releasing a cloud of ink.
From the moment of hatching, young cuttlefish can display at least 13 different types of body pattern.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Sophia Medine said: “It’s fantastic so many of the eggs have hatched out and we are now looking after literally hundreds of babies.
“They’re exact miniature replicas of the adults and they all seem to be doing really well.
“They really are incredible creatures. For most people their only experience of cuttlefish is the remains of their hard internal shells washed up on the beach,” she added.
A fringe of fins around their bodies allow the cuttlefish to hover motionless, but they can also move at high speed by expelling a jet of water from a funnel on the underside of their heads.
Specially-adapted skin cells allow them to rapidly change colour and shape. Scientists believe they use these abilities both to communicate to each other and to confuse their prey as they attack.
Although they are believed to be highly intelligent, cuttlefish are relatively short lived creatures, with a maximum lifespan of 18 months. For females the situation is even worse as they breed only once and die soon after laying their eggs.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews/ picture opportunities please contact Sophia Medine or Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.