Welcome to my blog on all things ocean! Hope you enjoy reading!
In honor of Cephalopod Week, I decided to dedicate today’s post to these tentacled critters. For those of you who aren’t completely sure what a Cephalopod is:
“any of a class (Cephalopoda) of marine mollusks including squids, cuttlefishes, and octopuses that move by expelling water from a tubular siphon under the head and that have a group of muscular usually sucker-bearing arms around the front of the head, highly developed eyes, and usually a sac containing ink which is ejected for defense or concealment.”
In other words, a Cephalopod is any cute, little, ocean critter with tentacles who can squee out ink in a moments notice. Here are a few reasons why Cephalopods are more than calamari:
1. Oh you fancy, huh? All cephelopods, except nautilus, have the ability to change the color and texture of their skin using chromatophores. This skill is often used for camouflage so they can blend in with their surroundings and snatch up their unsuspecting prey.
Above, you can see a Cuttlefish camouflaging itself to look like the ocean floor!
2. Houdini: Cephalopods are invertebrates, which means they do not have any bones in their body. This allows them to have extreme flexibility with their bodies where they can squeeze through any hole large enough that they can fit their beaks (essentially their mouths) into. When kept in aquariums, these critters need special containment as they are known to escape practically any situation, just like Houdini.
3. Smarty Panticles: These guys are known for their extreme intelligence, especially larger squid. To keep their minds busy, puzzles are often placed in their tanks. Enrichment tools are used to stimulate their brains similar to how they would be in the wild.
4. Monkey see, monkey do: Some Cephalopods, such as the Mimic octopus, take camouflage to another level. These octopuses change their appearance to resemble other predators or species local to their area. They can be commonly seen impersonating Sole fish, Lion fish, and Sea snakes.
The 3 photos on the left are of a Mimic octopus changing it’s appearance to resemble a Sole fish (Top right), Lion fish (Middle right), and a Sea snake (Bottom right).
5. How many arms can you count? Contrary to common belief, the appendages that Cephalopods have are actually called arms, NOT tentacles. Octopuses (Yes, this is the correct plural for Octopus) have 8 arms; Cuttlefishes and Squid have 8 arms and 2 tentacles used for feeding; While the nautilus outnumbers all of them with ~50 arms for females and ~90 arms for males.
6. Shot up like a weed! Because most Cephalopods only live to be approximately 1-2 years of age (with the exception of the nautilus. Again. That only becomes sexually mature at the age of 15.), their growth from a pearl-sized egg to a full-grown adult is quite fast.
7. Speedy Gonzales: Certain species of squid are known to swim up to 25 mph, as fast as a shark! However, they can only swim at this speed for short bursts, similar to a sprint.
8. Check, Mate: Male Cephalopods deposit spermatocytes into the female, however there is no guarantee that her offspring will be carrying his genetics. Female Cephalopods have the ability to store the sperm of multiple suitors and decide which has the best genetics, then lay her eggs. Additionally, the female guards her eggs and keeps them oxygenated during their gestation, which can last for a few months, up to 4 years. During this time she does not eat. Mommy of the year award goes to the Cephalopods!
These ocean critters have many talents, from changing their identity to squeezing through tiny holes. It is fair to say that Cephalopods need no introduction. Visit your local aquarium to learn more about these neat animals or keep your eyes peeled for these hidden gems while scuba diving in the ocean!
Happy Cephalopod Week!