Saturday, May 28, 2011

Giant Cuttlefish

This is a juvenile Giant Cuttlefish found along Australia's southern coast.  The photos were taken at the Marine Discovery Centre in Queenscliff, Victoria.
They are fascinating creatures to watch. Not only can they change the colour pattern of the skin but also its texture. As adults they can reach a metre in length and live for about 2 years. It has been recently discovered that they aggregate in very large numbers to breed in the Spencer Gulf in South Australia. The one in the picture is only about 15cm long.

These two photos were taken as it was stalking a fish. They use two specialised tentacles to strike out at their prey after they have stealthfully floated up close to it. On the underside of its body you can see two fins or rudders, which are made out of soft tissue only and it is able flatten them or make them more prominant at will.

This is a close up picture of the eye. The spots on the skin are called chromataphores and they are like little sacks of pigment, by flattening out or squeezing tight these little sacks they are able to change their skin colour and pattern at will. It can use this as a means of camouflage; to make themselves blend in with their surroundings and also to communicate with other cuttlles.

This last photo is of a juvenile Southern Pygmy squid (a close relative to cuttlefish), only a day after it hatched. It is only 1 cm long and this is a picture showing it starting to display different patterns with its chromataphores.....I call it "First Words".