Cuttlefish on the Maori

Sea life: Cuttlefish

I love cuttlefish – they are cephalopods like octopus, and endlessly beautiful and entertaining to watch. Cephalopod means head-foot in Greek, and refers to their structure: large head, plus lots of tentacles.

We’ve spotted cuttlefish on a night dive before, vibrating its orange mantle underneath one of the Long Beach wrecks. Tony put up a video clip here.

Head-on view of mini cuttlefish
Head-on view of mini cuttlefish

The cutest thing I have EVER seen in the ocean was a toenail-sized cuttlefish I met while photographing Tony and Kate assembling the artificial reef at Long Beach. I was meant to be taking pictures of their work, but my eye was caught by this little dude moving across the sand. I first thought he was a warty pleurobranch, but he put on a burst of speed beyond the capabilities of any flavour of sea slug.

Very cute cuttlefish
Very cute cuttlefish

I followed him around for some time, watching as he changed colour to try and intimidate me, and then as he gave up and went about his business.

I'm brown so you can't see me!
I'm brown so you can't see me!

If I could have taken him home as a pet, I would have. Here’s a picture of him next to my finger (in my new gloves) for scale.

Clare's finger next to a tiny cuttlefish
Clare's finger next to a tiny cuttlefish

On the Atlantic side, Oscar located a large specimen for me on the wreck of the SS Maori near Hout Bay. He was quite happily nestled against a rock, and was undisturbed by me coming quite close to check him out. He was a beautiful, large fellow.

Cuttlefish on the Maori
Cuttlefish on the Maori

Watching a cuttlefish on the move is wonderful – their mantles (the frilly bit around their bodies) make hypnotic waves as they undulate through the water. They can be quite relaxed, and will allow divers to come close to them as they hover in the water column.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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