August 1, 2013
A cluster of cuttlefish eggs which were hauled up on the ropes of a lobster pot have begun hatching out at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium. The eggs were donated to the Southsea wildlife attraction by a Cornish aquarium. So far around half a dozen of the eggs have hatched out, with more centimetre-long babies due to emerge over the coming days. The tiny babies come out of the egg able to hunt and feed immediately but also have a small amount of yolk left from the egg to keep them going for a couple of days. From the moment of hatching, young cuttlefish can display at least 13 different types of body pattern.
The cuttlefish is closely related to squid, nautilus and 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. Blue Reef’s Jen Atkinson said:
“The eggs were donated to us by our sister aquarium in Newquay and the ones they kept there hatched at almost exactly the same time. Cuttlefish are fascinating creatures and the babies are perfect little miniature versions of the adults and extremely cute! 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 enable 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.
See if you can spot these mini, masters of camouflage in our Nursery tanks!