Metasepia pfefferi - Flamboyant Cuttlefish


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Sep 4, 2006
Cape Coral, FL
Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefishes, Metasepia pfefferi MarineBio

See full write-up for habitat and additional info links

Description & Behavior
Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish :: MarineBio Video Library

Pfeffer's flamboyant cuttlefishes, Metasepia pfefferi (Hoyle, 1885), are truly amazing animals and well named. A favorite of underwater photographers and videographers, flamboyant cuttlefishes display stunning changing colors and patterns and actually "walk" along the bottom of the sea (the only one known to do so). M. pfefferi has a maximum mantle (the part behind the head) length of 6-8 cm with 3 pairs of flap-like fleshy papillae (fleshy nipple-like protuberances) and a V-shaped ventral (underside) fleshy ridge. These cuttlefishes also have large violet oblique V-shaped patches on both sides of their dorsal (topside) mantle. Papillae are also present over their eyes. The papillae are used for camouflage to break up the outline of the cuttlefish.

Flamboyant cuttlefishes have 8 broad blade-like arms with four rows of suckers. One of the left ventral arms is modified (called the hectocotylus) and is used for fertilization.

Like squid, these cuttlefish have two tentacles inside their arms used for capturing prey whose ends are called tentacle clubs which have flat surfaces with 5-6 suckers, 3-4 of which are relatively "enormous" and located in the center of the clubs.

Their fins are yellow and their arms are purplish with margins of yellow.

Their internal shell, or cuttlebone, is diamond-shaped (rhombic), thick and small without a keel-like vertical ridge like that in Metasepia tullbergi (the paintpot cuttlefish) and is 2/3 to 3/4 the length of the mantle.

Pfeffer's flamboyant cuttlefish undergoes incredible color changes possible due to three types of structures contained within its skin, called chromatophores, leucophores and iridophores, which are small structures filled with colored ink which can be rapidly expanded and contracted to communicate or are used as camouflage within its habitat. These structures allow the cuttlefish to rapidly reflect a myriad of colors and change the textures of their skin (see this video for an example).

The name Sepia refers to the type of ink it produces. Like many squid, this ink is used to deceive predators by being ejected by their funnel into the water to form an ink cloud, while the cuttlefish swims to safety.

Cuttlefish (Sepiida) are in an Order of mollusks that possess an internal shell called the cuttlebone. The cuttlebone is made of calcium carbonate and is used by these mollusks to control their buoyancy. The cuttlebone is divided into many tiny chambers in which the cuttlefish can rapidly fill or empty of gas, depending on its buoyancy needs. They are in theClass Cephalopoda which is the group that contains cuttlefish, octopuses, squid and the chambered nautilus.
This Cuttlefish Dazzles
Internet chatter suggests that the flamboyant cuttlefish—known for ambling along the seafloor and flashing brilliant displays—is toxic. What does the science say?

Science Friday article on the flamboyant discussing toxisity

.. Meanwhile, Christine Bedore, an assistant professor of biology at Georgia Southern University and another member of the team, has been conducting feeding studies to see if predators reveal any distaste for flamboyant cuttlefish. Thus far, “every predator basically readily eats the flamboyant cuttlefish, and they haven’t had any aversive effects—so they haven’t been sick or anything like that,” says Bedore. ...
This cuttlefish is flamboyant on special occasions only!
The flashy Flamboyant Cuttlefish is among the most famous of the cephalopods (octopus, squid, and cuttlefish) -- but it is widely misunderstood by its legions of fans.

A new paper from the Roger Hanlon laboratory at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, sets the record straight.

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