Cuttlefishes get their name from their cuttlebone—an internal, porous structure that helps to regulate their buoyancy—an element of anatomy that no other cephalopods possess. There are 120 known species of cuttlefish: you can come see dwarf cuttlefish, Sepia bandensis, in the Aquarium’s Tropical Pacific exhibit.
Dwarf cuttlefish earn their names: they’re about the size of a pea when they hatch, and grow to approximately three to four inches long; other cuttlefish species range generally in size from six to 10 inches.
And, while all cephalopods can change color, cuttlefishes do it in quite a spectacular way, earning them the nickname “chameleons of the sea.” Cuttlefish can go from white (their color at rest) to jet black—and many other colors in between—in an instant. They can even scroll bands of color across their bodies, an effect which some scientists suggest is used to mesmerize prey and communicate with other cuttlefish.
Cuttlefishes prey on shrimp, crabs and fish, relying on their camouflaging ability to sneak up on their desired meal. If the prey is partially hidden by sand, cuttlefishes can squirt out a jet of water to uncover it. Then they quickly open their eight arms, shoot out two long feeding tentacles to grab the prey, and pull it toward their sharp beaks.
Visit our website to learn more about these fascinating animals, then come see them in person during Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium!