December 13, 2016
A colony of bizarre-looking cuttlefish has gone on display at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium in the run up to Christmas.
Eight baby common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, have been donated to the Towan Promenade attraction.
Cuttlefish are close relatives of the octopus. Like their eight-tentacled cousins they can change colour and even body shape, and escape predators by releasing a cloud of ink.
They also have three hearts, blue-green blood and have one of the highest brain to body size ratios of any invertebrate.
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.
In spite of their cute appearance, cuttlefish are highly efficient predators with a deadly pair of tentacles which they shoot out to catch their prey.
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.
From the moment of hatching, young cuttlefish can display at least 13 different types of body pattern.
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.
The dark-brown ink of the common cuttlefish, called sepia, was once used extensively for writing and drawing.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews/ picture opportunities please contact Melissa Hallam or Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.