My last dive beneath the lowly Lapinig Island lead me to discover and know closely the elusive cuttlefish. This specie is so fast or was I so slow I never got glimpse of them in the wild, previous dives left me oblivious with only the dive guide or my dive buddy mentioning the sightings as we got to the surface. The cold waters embraced me and while looking over the reef with hovering fishes, my dive guide caught my attention pointing beyond. There over five meters from us was a footer cuttlefish observing us. I tried to inch my way to get closer, but it was backing away inch by inch too. How magnificent! It was swimming backwards, hovering near the soft corals – its fins around wiggling as if controlling its moves. Its big sad eyes I presume looking at us, observing our moves too. I lingered for a moment slowly trying to get near but it was moving back, maintaining its distance from me. It was my first close encounter with a cuttlefish.
The amazing cuttlefish belongs to the class “cephalopoda”, the same family which octopus and squid belong to. They are considered to have the highest intelligence of any invertebrate, as well as the ability to see backwards, use jet propulsion and keep buoyancy in the same way that submarines do. Oh, it shoots jets of ink as well!
Cuttlefish is now my new favorite, and before I’ll meet it again deep down I need to know more of this mysterious critter, I am sharing here few amazing facts of my new found friend:
10. Cuttlefish bone is filled with gas!
Cuttle-bone (the things you see in bird cages) has small chambers and like a submarine, filling or releasing the gas in them controls the cuttlefish’s buoyancy.
9. The flesh of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is poisonous
This is the only species of cuttlefish known to have any poisons and it carries a unique toxin in its muscles. This species is also short and stubby, unlike the long graceful bodies of most others.
8. The cuttlefish eye is shaped like a W.
The unique shape of the pupils plays a part in the most highly developed eyes of any animal. They allow the cuttlefish to perceive light polarization and completely reshape their eyes to focus. They also really do have the proverbial eyes in the back of the head, with a second spot on the fovea which allows them to see backwards.
7. Cuttlefish can change color in mere seconds
Cuttlefish change color using a series of special skin cells, chromatophores, iridophores and leucophores, which reflect light in all sorts of colors. It can change colors in seconds – that fast!
6. Cuttle fish can make themselves completely invisible
Not only do they reflect colors, they are able to merge almost completely with the seafloor.
5.Cuttlefish shoot jets of ink
Cuttlefish ink was the original sepia which was once used by artists – nowadays replaced mostly with synthetic sepia. The ink is used as a defense to confuse predators and allow the cuttlefish time to escape.
4. Cuttlefish don’t have a tail
They have a fin all the way around their body instead of tail fins, like squid, and they use this fin to control movement.
3. Cuttlefish have jet propulsion
Cuttlefish can escape from enemies by using rocket propulsion. Water is squeezed down their body (mantle) into a special tubular muscle (siphon) that controls the direction as they are propelled backwards for a short distance
2. Cuttlefish have green blood
Their blood is green because it uses the protein hemocyanin which has copper in it rather than hemoglobin.
1. Cuttlefish have 3 hearts
They have three separate hearts, one for each gill and and one for the rest of the body. One reason is that their blood flows more rapidly as hemocyanin contains much less oxygen than hemoglobin.
These amazing animals (cephalopods) are so unique and beautiful. Even submarines have made use of their buoyancy methods and they have physical characteristics that no other animal has, yet most of us only know them by the piece of cuttle-bone in a bird cage. Hopefully these facts have led you to admire them as much as I do.
NB. Unfortunately my point and shoot camera is incapable to take photo so I’m borrowing one from http://www.masseffect.wikia.com