Cuttlefish arms are in the place
where most of us would have a face.
Front-on they look like elephants
with lots and lots of tiny trunks.
Their skin can change its colouring
to make their bodies blend right in.
Their eyes have slits like wavy lines
instead of pupils round like mine.
Safe in their see-through eggy shell
Cuttlefish babies see quite well.
Before they’re old enough to hatch
they’ve seen the food they wish to catch!
- Submitted in response to Poetry Prompt #8
Celia said: At birth, human babies have blurry vision. It takes a while to master how to focus on different things. In contrast, a cuttlefish’s eyes are fully developed before they hatch from their see-through egg. Just imagine being able to see all the food you want eat floating by … but you can’t get to it! Is that like having a blurred appetite?
Your baby’s sight develops somewhat gradually, unlike her hearing, which is fully mature by the end of her first month. At birth, her vision is pretty fuzzy, though she can make out light, shapes, and movement.
Ecology: The origin of the word cuttlefish can be found in the old English term cudele, itself derived in the 1400s from the Norwegian koddi (testicle) and the Middle German kudel (pouch), a literal description of the cephalopod’s shape. Cuttlefish have an internal shell (cuttlebone), large W-shaped pupils, and eight arms and two tentacles furnished with suckers, with which they secure their prey. Cuttlefish eat small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish and other cuttlefish. Their predators include dolphins, sharks, fish, seals and other cuttlefish. Their life expectancy is about one to two years.
Interesting facts/Status: Cuttlefish are sometimes referred to as the chameleons of the sea because of their remarkable ability to rapidly alter their skin color at will. Their skin flashes a fast-changing pattern as communication to other cuttlefish and to camouflage them from predators. This color-changing function is produced by groups of red, yellow, brown, and black pigmented chromatophores above a layer of reflective iridophores and leucophores, with up to 200 of these specialized pigment cells per square millimeter. The pigmented chromatophores have a sac of pigment and a large membrane that is folded when retracted. There are 6-20 small muscle cells on the sides which can contract to squash the elastic sac into a disc against the skin. All of these cells can be used in combinations.
Cuttlefish eyes are among the most developed in the animal kingdom. Scientists have speculated that cuttlefish’s eyes are fully developed before birth and start observing their surroundings while still in the egg. The blood of a cuttlefish is an unusual shade of green-blue because it uses the copper-containing protein hemocyanin to carry oxygen instead of the red iron-containing protein hemoglobin that is found in mammals. The blood is pumped by three separate hearts, two of which are used for pumping blood to the cuttlefish’s pair of gills and the third for pumping blood around the rest of the body.