Flamboyant Cuttlefish: Metasepia pfefferi

The name says it all:  the flamboyant cuttlefish is one of the most striking cephalopods, in appearance and behavior.  Usually no more that 8 cm (3 in), their small stature is offset by their big and bizarre behavior and literally "flashy" coloration.  They usually move around by "walking" along the bottom, waddling by moving the bottom of the mantle back and forth in a comical elephant-like shuffle, while undulating their fins and waving their brightly-colored tentacles.  When startled, they will "gallop" off, darkening in coloration and waving their tentacles wildly.  Most striking is their habit of flashing black and white bars of color along the mantle.  When at rest, they can go light or dark to find camouflage on the ocean bottom.

The flashy color and flagrant behavior is no bluff...they are highly toxic, one of only three poisonous cephalopods. 

Cuttlefish hunt by extending feeding tentacles like a tongue, slowly aiming at their prey then rapidly launching the tentacles for a quick grab.  There's a (shaky) capture of the behavior in this video.

These flamboyant cuttlefish were filmed in Puerto Galera, Philippines.  It was the first time I had ever seen them, after years of anticipation...one of my more thrilling underwater experiences! 

For more info, check out the Wikipedia entry. 

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