Sunday, 18 April 2010

Macro Monday: Things That make Me Go...... Ahhhh......!

So, this week cute and colourful creature is the cuttlefish. These shots were taken at the aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.


I hope that you noticed the slightly different wording for the title of this post - this week it is an animal that I personally find particularly endearing, but that some of may not, due to its distinct lack of furriness and a backbone. There are so many reasons why I love these animals, so brace yourselves, I may get a bit carried away with the rest of this post. Oh yes, today you are not getting away with just an adorable picture that you can ahhhhh at. Today, my friends, you are going to be subjected to................


Don’t Bug Me’s Top Ten Reasons for Loving Cuttlefish:

1). They have the most amazing skin that is capable of changing colour and texture in the blink of an eye.  Want to make yourself disappear? No problem, a cuttlefish can change its spots. Want to look like gravel? Want to blend in with that eel grass? Perhaps you fancy a little stripey number today? The cuttlefish’s wardrobe is an endless array of colours and patterns due to the pigment cells in its skin. Different cells contain different pigments and by contracting muscles around each cell, the cuttlefish can control which cells are showing their colours and which aren’t. On top of that, the skin also contains cells that reflect light at different angles, so producing metallic greens, blues, golds and silvers.
                                                                 
 2).You can talk to them. No really, you can. I have spent quite some time, both underwater and at aquariums trying to communicate with these guys. I guess I am not fluent in cuttlefish, since my conversations have been slightly lacking, but I do remember one dive in Indonesia where a cuttlefish and I were head to head for quite some time. They communicate via their skin and can tell another cuttlefish how they are feeling by changing the colour and texture of their skin. They also talk to each other using their tentacles, raising some of them up above their heads and waving them around. Obviously, I can’t change the colour of my skin, and I don’t have tentacles, but I have tried using my fingers instead. The cuttlefish seem rather bemused by my attempts at talking to them. People walking by just gave me a very wide berth.......

3). Got that loving feeling........? Cuttlefish are quite the lovers. The males wooo their partners with calm soothing colours, the colours of luv. However, if other males come along, they turn all macho and try to outdo each other with bold displays of zebra stripes and flashing colours. They are so good at controlling their skin patterns that they can actually woo a female on side while telling another male to “back off, she’s mine!” on the other side.

4). Deception and intrigue...... Not getting any of the action? Too small and puny to compete with all those big macho males? Fed up with getting gravel kicked in your face? No problem, just try a little cross dressing to slip under the radar. Sneak in, do the deed and get out fast. Yep, if you can’t be arsed with all the posturing and fighting, why not try a different strategy? Try pretending you are a female - no male is going to turn you away. Then, while he is busy fighting with other males, you do a quick costume change, have you wicked way with the waiting female and then bugger off out of there, leaving the big lug none-the –wiser.

5). They are smarter than your average cat – which is not saying much if you are comparing them to Tess, but it does say average....... Cuttlefish actually have one of the largest brains to body size of all invertebrates and rank up there with one of my other all time favourites, the octopus, in terms of intelligence. Given all the above, they really do have to have large brains to cope with all that.........

6). The eyes have it........ cuttlefish have W shaped eyes that are one of the most developed in the animal kingdom. Again, given all the visual signals that they use, they need a good eye.

7). They have their uses. As with other cephalopods, cuttlefish produce ink. For them, it is used to confuse and distract predators, acting as a smokescreen to shield their escape. In some cases, the ink is mixed with mucus that, when released, actually takes on a globular shape, mimicking the cuttlefish. The dim witted predator then goes for the ink blob whilst the sneaky little cephalopod makes its getaway. For the ancient Greeks, the brown pigment was very useful for writing and drawing and was given the name sepia.

8). They have blue blood. I am not talking royalty here; they really do have blue blood. This is because the oxygen carrying protein in their blood, haemocyanin, contains copper, rather than the more normal iron found in haemoglobin. Since haemocyanin carries much less oxygen than haemoglobin, they need three hearts to pump it rapidly around the body. It also means that they get tired very quickly and cannot maintain any physically demanding activity for too long. This is a very good thing when you are involved with in a tug of war with an 80lb octopus. Trust me, I know.......

9). They are just so flamboyant. Look at this one – it is even called Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish. It is the smallest cuttlefish in the world, only reaching 6cm in length. It only has a very small cuttlebone, which in other cuttlefish help with buoyancy. This means that this little fella is too heavy to swim around much, so it likes to “walk” along the ocean floor.  While hunting, it can mimic the silty sea bed, but if threatened in any way, it will display bright red colours and start waving its arms, tipped in yellow above its head. This is a warning “Whatever you do, don’t eat me. I taste horrible and you might die.”  For the flamboyant cuttlefish is poisonous, making a toxin unknown in any other animal.


10). The name, cuttlefish. Did you know that it is derived from the Norwegian word koddi, which means testicle? How can you not love an animal whose name means “testicle pouch”?!?

    For more Macro Monday go here.

    For more Faces of the Week go here.

    Please note - the photo of the flamboyant cuttlefish is not mine. Unfortunately I did not see one when I was diving in Indonesia. Perhaps next time..........




    23 comments:

    Manang Kim said...

    I agree! This makes me ahhhh too, this is a very super macro shot. Like it. Happy weekdays!

    Macro~Antzy

    Colleen said...

    Ha! I loved all 10 of your interesting facts. I am so much more informed now. I'll have to re-read all that and commit it to memory so I can stun and amaze my children next time we go to an aquarium. Beautiful shots too. It's amazing that they can be such a brilliant color.

    Sistertex said...

    These are just amazing fish! I love the way they can adapt their coloring. I personally find them to be very cute. :)

    Thank you so much for including them in 'Face of the Week', this week! Love all the facts...though I knew some about these guys...I know a lot more now. As always wonderful photos and always a good deal of knowledge to go along with it. Thanks so much DBM!!

    Dave said...

    This is definitely Ahhhh......!

    Kala said...

    They are so darned cute! Thanks for sharing.

    Kate said...

    hmmm beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder - thank you DBM I learned a lot but I'm sorry I still can't be crazy about them!!!!!

    "Lillagul" said...

    Great shots !
    They can change color on only one side too. I have seen it on TV :)
    They are really cool animals :)

    tinasphotoblog said...

    Oh, I love the colours in your photos. They´re great!!! :)

    jabblog said...

    How extraordinary! I have to come back and read this again - whoever would have thought this little creature was so versatile? Amazing - thank you for sharing :-)

    Katherine said...

    I was quite ready to like cuttlefish before, and now I am in love! PS. Have you read "Sweet Thursday" by John Steinbeck? I think you might enjoy it DBM.

    Cortes said...

    Great photos and a most interesting list of reasons to love the little Cuttlefish. Question though; as they are related to squid, do these cute little swimmers also attack divers? And like some squid, are they also cannibals?

    Johnny Nutcase said...

    totally cute! what a fascinating creature! Great info in there and excellent photos!

    Rebecca said...

    Interesting. Great shots.

    Amanda said...

    WOW! You did an amazing job! You are right. They are fascinating. Not to mention that they have some super-sized cousins!

    Suldog said...

    The cuttlefish sounds absolutely fascinating! I sort of wish I could go have a conversation with one right now.

    Daniela said...

    Hi hi , so cute!

    Don't Bug Me! said...

    Kim: Ahhh good, someone agrees with me.

    Colleen: It is always good to have some interesting facts up your sleeve to impress your kids, or anyone else really.

    Sistertex: Cute and clever!

    Dave: I quite agree.

    Kala: You are welcome.

    Kate: What!?! You don't think they are cute!?! Oh come on.........oh, OK, I suppose not everyone will find them quite as endearing as I do. But then I think weevils are cute....

    Lillagul: Very cool indeed.

    Tina: I love the metallic blues and greens - quite gorgeous.

    Jabblog: Versatile and cute.

    Katherine: I have not - does it have a happy ending? I had given up reading Steinbeck due to the miserable endings, but if this one is happier, I will give it a go.

    Cortes: So far, I have just had pleasant conversations with them - no flashing red and attacking me and dragging me down into the depths.

    Nutcase: Thank you!

    Rebecca: One of the most interesting animals out there, as far as I am concerned.

    Amanada: Ah yes, I would love to see a living giant squid.

    Suldog: People might give you odd looks and you never know if you might offend one when you don't really know the language. Who knows what I might have said to one!?!

    Daniela: Hi!

    Jay said...

    Super post! I knew hardly any of that, but now I do, I think I love them too! I had no idea they were intelligent, and could talk by changing the colour of their skin - that's amazing!

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures and all the info!

    IdellA231_Fecteau1 said...

    令人心動的好文章~~........................................

    Baino said...

    Well who'd have thunk it. I'll look differently at those white bones that wash up on the beach and end up in budgie cages! They are cute, like little underwater heffalumps with half a dozen too many trunks!

    Kim said...

    I know this is a bit oldish but I was looking for cuttlefish wallpapers because they can be the cutest things ever (your photographs prove that!) and thank you for this awesome post! I also hope that you don't mind if I use them as wallpapers, no worries they'll just stay on my computer.

    Don't Bug Me! said...

    Hi Kim,
    Please go ahead and use the photos as wallpaper, although I am not sure how good they will look since the resolution is quite low.

    Anonymous said...

    These are beautiful shots of the amazing cuttlefish. I'm a big cuttlefish fan and really like your 10 things to love list.

    If you love cuttle fish, I suggest that you look into the Giant Australian Cuttlefish that breed each year at Whyalla, South Australia. These cuttles are potentially at risk. I have just returned home from swimming with them.
    The cuttles require certain water temperatures to return to their breeding grounds, so any rise is ocean temperature is a risk to them. In addition to this, increases in carbon in the atmosphere cause an increase in the size of their cuttle bone, resulting in them being unable to control their buoyancy...