• Welcome to TONMO, the premier cephalopod interest community, and birthplace of #WorldOctopusDay and #CephalopodAwarenessDays. Founded in 2000, we are a large community of experts, hobbyists and enthusiasts, some of whom come together when we host our biennial conference. To join in on the fun, sign up. You can also become a Supporter for just $50/year to remove all ads and enjoy other perks. Follow us on Twitter for more cephy goodness.

Cuttlefish Conversation

Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
61
Since I've been trying to communicate with my cuttle, I thought I'd share. I'll try and tape a session or take some pics too.

My hand apparently resembles a cuttlefish enough to get some responses. If I bring my hand up near the glass, palm down, fingers together, cupped a bit, and hang there he turns his gaze to my hand.

Now, he sometimes does this "pushups" movement, bobbing his head up and down while extending his arms forward a bit. If I imitate this movement, he will "answer" it. He always waits until I stop doing it first before "replying".

The other main signal is first two arms raised up. Sometimes he will respond to my two raised fingers with this one, but there's also a flower printed dish that makes him react this way every time. If I switch to the bobbing movement after this, he will lower his arms and "answer" with the bobbing too.

Has anyone studied what this kind of communication actually means?

Is it territorial stuff? Any experiences?

Thanks
 

joel_ang

Architeuthis
Registered
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
2,028
We have no real way of knowing for sure simply because they're so alien to us, the raised arms could mean anything, from camouflage to aggression or just a nice way of saying 'hi' , makes you wish they could talk eh? Hopefully someone will research this extensively and we'll finally break their language, meanwhile, we'll have to be content knowing they look cute no matter they're doing :heee:

Quite abit off topic but ever wanted to know what cuttle food sees in their last moments? Try waving a toy crab on your side of the glass, if the cuttle sees it and is convinced, he'll actually strike. You'll get to see it's beak rasping and all. Doesn't seem to have any ill effects on the cuttle, just abit of annoyance on his part. Not sure if its really safe but don't do it too much :wink:
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
61
But haven't the folks at NRCC studied this extensively? Oh, tonight he did BOTH at the same time: bobbing with the arms up. These movements are accompanied by a whole range of more subtle gestures like how crookedy the arms are, papillae-raising, his "horns", and all kinds of juxtaposeable patterns and hues, some of which I am naming (OK this is not scientific really, but maybe I could detect some order if I catalogued and photographed them, and noted when and how they were used).

Hasn't someone done this before? Anyone got like a "Picture Guide to your Cuttle's Moods and Gestures"? Maybe I could make one.... :wink:
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2004
Messages
352
We have not done any communication at the NRCC for a while it takes a long time to do and it is hard to do from a scientific point of view. Although I've noticed that Sepia pharaonis seem to be very aware of things around them more so than Sepia officinalis. Also I think that there are documents on body patters and postures of cuttlefish.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
61
Indeed, he's hyper-aware of things going on inside the tank, or across the room. His reactions to different brightnesses and shapes of objects and clothing outside the tank are distinctive too. Certain objects will usually provoke the same responses again and again. Do you know if there is documentation of S. pharoanis specifically?
And is that stuff top secret unpublished stuff?

His reactions to prey seem "intelligent" too, or complex at least. Prey type, size, behavior, position, and claw size all result in very different and specific hunting strategies - sometimes more than one strategy will be employed if the first is unsuccessful.

This is making me excited, are there uncharted, unstudied areas of cuttle behavior?

I'm very interested in investigating if they use cryptic polarized light signalling like S. officionalis does - I strongly suspect they do.
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2004
Messages
352
There is no "top secret" research going on as far as I know. I know a couple of researchers that are working with communication between animals trying to document it. But like I said before communication and intelligence is a very tricky subject unless you have a lot of time, a lot of animals to study, and a ton of proof. There are several papers out I think on pharaonis behavior and the person I know who is looking at communication and learning between cuttlefish is still working on the project.
 

Mikey

Wonderpus
Registered
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Messages
233
I often play "bob up and down" wit my cuttles, and yes, they do seem to respond.

I also play hid and seek with my finger, hidiing beneath the tank frame, and then bobbing it up. I can only assume they are "thinking" about what I am doing as they seem to perform "passing cloud" when the finger bobs up.
 

Thales

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jan 22, 2004
Messages
3,013
Mine do the same kinds of thing Mike. I did the same with S. latimatus (sp?) on the GBR a couple of years ago.

FILM IT! :biggrin2:
 

Tintenfisch

Architeuthis
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
2,103
When I first started at the NEAq in Boston we had a couple of cuttles and the aquarists told me that when they first arrive, you can get them to respond to various hand-postures as described above. The bunched-fingers-with-middle-and-ring-raised-together posture seemed to get the best response and was guessed to mean something along the lines of 'Hi, I'm a friendly cuttlefish.' After a while they learned which aquarists the food came from and only responded to them. :roll:
 

erich orser

TONMO Supporter
Registered
Joined
Nov 29, 2004
Messages
1,632
Tintenfisch, sounds like the cuttles figured which keepers were trainable!

When I've gotten the opportunity to signal cuttles (saw Rona doing this with Gilly's cuttle in Pacific Grove), I've always assumed the cuttles were trying to get me to sign "water pump".
 

Forum statistics

Threads
20,977
Messages
206,941
Members
8,473
Latest member
bjh1951

Monty Awards

TONMOCON IV (2011): Terri
TONMOCON V (2013): Jean
TONMOCON VI (2015): Taollan
TONMOCON VII (2018): ekocak


Top