Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish? More like ‘cuddlefish’ after you read these 5 amazing facts.

From surprisingly familiar traits to quirky capabilities, here are some of the most interesting facts about the octopus’s lesser-known cousin.
Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 21 December 2021

Apart from finding cuttlebones washed up on the beach, it’d be understandable if you don’t know a whole lot else about cuttlefish. And you are not alone in this – studies are only just beginning to uncover the behaviours and abilities of these unique sea animals.

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Close up of a cuttlefish - underwater at divesite Bannerfish Bay in Dahab, Egypt.

1. They know when it’s meal-time – just like our furry companions

When cuttlefish in a study were trained to eat their breakfast, lunch, and dinner at specific locations in their tanks, they consistently showed up! The cuttlefish headed to the right place at the right time each day, even when scientists didn’t have food for them. This suggests that cuttlefish have strong semantic memory (conscious, long-term memory) and can learn valuable facts.

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cuttlefish in ocean

2. Cuttlefish make memories – they can reminisce about a favourite dish they ate, like we can

By testing the animals’ personal food preferences, a clever study found that cuttlefish could form complex, episodic memories (involving the recollection of particular life experiences). Beyond when and where they had eaten, they could recall which meal they thought was tastier. And this ability remained surprisingly strong in ‘old’ cuttlefish — indicating that their memory may even improve over time.

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cuttlefish

3. Cuttlefish can exercise self-control – comparable to some large-brained vertebrates

If given a choice between a treat right away, or an even better treat in the future, cuttlefish can choose to wait. In a delayed gratification test, cuttlefish waited for the better reward and tolerated delays of up to 50–130 seconds. With this recent finding, the cuttlefish has now joined chimpanzees, parrots, and crows, with this ‘self-control’ marker of intelligence.

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A cuttlefish couple swimming in ocean

4. There are over 120 different species of cuttlefish — and they drastically range in size

Australia is home to the largest species of cuttlefish in the world – the Giant Australian Cuttlefish, or Sepia Apama, can grow to one meter in total length and weigh over 10kg! At the other end of the cuttlefish-spectrum, Spirula Spirula is smaller than the palm of your hand, rarely exceeding a length of 4.5cm.

Some species, like the common cuttlefish, are currently at risk due to fishing. The Giant Australian Cuttlefish is listed as near threatened due to climate change and fishing. Despite their uniqueness, and the two-year lifespan of cuttlefish making their population more vulnerable, the State Government continues to allow fishers to catch them.

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cuttlefishes in ocean

5. Cuttlefish don’t just change colour – they also shape-shift and mimic other animals

Despite being colour-blind, cuttlefish can camouflage to evade predators, or flash mesmerising patterns to attract attention from a mate. They are also wily shapeshifters, able to disguise themselves as coral and rocks, and imitate hermit crabs.

And as though their uncanny crab trick wasn’t impressive enough, cuttlefish have even been captured on video using two tactics to send two different ‘messages’ at once. A male can woo a female with an attractive display on one side of his body, and simultaneously disguise himself as a female on the other side to fool his competition – a true master of disguise!


Help protect cuttlefish

Cuttlefish may be ‘voiceless’ in the human understanding of the word, but they’re very much worthy of protection. Studies and observations are revealing that these unique animals are sensitive and inquisitive – and there is still so much we are yet to discover about them!

Along with lobsters, crabs, prawns and other marine animals, cuttlefish are the often forgotten and silent victims of the fishing and ‘seafood’ industries. The good news is, we all have the power to take a stand against this cruelty, starting today.

Reducing or replacing animal products in our meals is not only the most profound way to reduce animal suffering, it is also best for the planet and for us as well. Eating plant-based is easy, delicious and it’s getting more popular, every single day.

Keen to find out more? You’ll find all the information you need, plus a selection of delicious recipes, in our free Veg Starter Kit. Order your copy here. Or if you’re ready to get cooking right away, then you might like to browse our collection of 100+ mouth-watering plant-based recipes at VegKit.com!

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