Common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)

Cuttlefish John Cooney

Photography by John Cooney

The cuttlefish is impressively misnamed.  For one thing, it is not all that cuddly and for another, it is not a fish.  That first reason is a bad joke, but the second is absolutely true, since cuttlefish is an invertebrate.  The Common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), has no spine and resembles a squid, another invertebrate.  Cuttlefish have 8 arms and two tentacles. These tentacles grab their prey and bring it to their beak to feed on creatures like crabs, shrimp, and fish.

Those of you that have been following the MSI creature features may remember that we have talked about a really cool adaptation called chromatophore organs. Chromatophore organs consist of pigment cells, elastic cells, muscle fibers, and nerves. This is what helps the cuttlefish change from a variety of different colors in a blink of the eye. Cuttlefish, like octopus and squid, contain a mantle, or the main body, which contains reproductive organs, digestive organs and a cuttlebone.

Continuing the cuttlefish theme of misnaming things, a cuttlebone is not a bone at all. It is an internal shell helps control the buoyancy of the cuttlefish.  Cuttlefish come equipped with their own personal floatation device!  However, air and water pollution can have harmful effects on many invertebrates’ shell-like structures.  Due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the pH levels of the ocean are decreasing. This is known as ocean acidification. It can cause an increase in the overall density of the cuttlefish, making it more difficult to regulate buoyancy while swimming.  If that is hard to picture, imagine what it might feel like to have to suddenly adapt to swimming with a heavier body than you are used to!

To learn more about ocean acidification and what you can do to help click here


Edited by KC O’Shea

Photography by John Cooney


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