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Cuttlefish 101 with Pamela Jackson

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Did you know that Cuttlefish have 3 hearts?

It’s true! This is a Cuttlefish but don’t let the name fool you – it’s not a fish.  Cuttlefish are invertebrates and are considered Mollusks (which means soft body), in the Class Cephalopoda which includes Octopus, Squid, and the Chambered Nautilus. They’re fast swimmers that use jet propulsion and have an undulating body mantle for locomotion.  Cuttlefish have eight tentacles (arms) lined with suckers on the underside and two elongated feeding tentacles.  They have a beak that can deliver a venomous bite and…… greenish-blue blood.  Super cool!

Cuttlefish are nocturnal hunters and hide and rest during the day.  They are some of the smartest creatures in the sea due to their large brain-to-body size ratio.  Their average life expectancy is about one to two years.

Cuttlefish have an internal structure called a cuttle-bone which is porous, made of Calcium Carbonite, and provides buoyancy.  Interestingly enough, these oval shaped cuttle-bones are harvested and given to birds as a calcium supplement (which is why they smell fishy).

Cuttlefish use their ink sacs to squirt black ink to confuse and escape from predators.  They have the added ability to use camouflage to evade sharks, dolphins, seals, sea birds, larger fish, and other cuttlefish.  Cuttlefish are cannibalistic which means they feed on one another as well as eat fish, small mollusks, snails, clams, worms, crabs, and shrimp.

Known for their colorful flashing displays, Cuttlefish have special cells called chromatophores, pronounced (crow-Matt-uh-4’s), that can change color at the drop of a hat.  Located within the skin, chromatophores allow the Cuttlefish to change skin color tone and texture to blend into their surroundings perfectly.  Scientists have no idea how they do this because these animals are colorblind!

Find out more about marine life with Pamela at www.gotoceans.com.

Learning about marine animals has been Pamela's lifelong passion. As a young child she won a goldfish at a state fair. Her parents taught her how to care for "Goldie". Pamela fed and cleaned Goldie's bowl, watched her swim around, and even took her fish to school! Pamela moved to California to pursue her passion for the ocean. She graduated with honors and a degree from the Aquarium & Aquaculture Science Program - the only accredited program of its kind. A Professional Aquarist and children's picture book author, Pamela contributes her expertise to the popular global 'Got Oceans?®' education campaign that can be found at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Got Oceans?® websites. A national featured speaker at venues such as ExplorOcean in Newport Beach, CA and the 2013 Presidents' Round Table at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, Pamela loves to work and volunteer at public and private aquariums to help teach people about the ocean and its inhabitants. Passionate, committed, and connected with a large and growing audience, Pamela is a voice for the ocean's inhabitants sharing her knowledge with the world... because the ocean matters!

Marine Life & Conservation

Review: My Octopus Teacher

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Regular contributors, CJ & Mike from Bimble in the Blue, review the Netflix documentary: My Octopus Teacher

My Octopus Teacher is the story of how filmmaker Craig Foster befriends a common octopus in the kelp forests off of the Cape Town coast.  Mike and I love to watch all things underwater and nature-based and so eagerly sat down to this documentary film, a new September arrival on Netflix.

Watch the trailer here:

After burning out at work Foster finds fascination and a deep connection with nature when spending time freediving at his favourite local spot.  In a sequence familiar to those who watched the “Green Seas” episode of Blue Planet 2, he comes across an octopus camouflaging itself with shells.  With his curiosity piqued, he begins to seek out the octopus on all of his dives, finding delight in its seemingly strange behaviours, learning what he can from the scientific literature and slowing working to gain the mollusc’s trust on his daily visits to her world.

My Octopus Teacher portrays a very anthropomorphised view of our subject and Foster’s relationship with her.  His conclusions tend to be more emotional than scientific and his eagerness to find similarities between himself and the octopus shows a great sentimentality.  However, you cannot help but be captivated by the incredible mutual curiosity and bond developing before you.  This relationship, and the stunning scenes of the kelp forest with its diverse inhabitants make for a deeply absorbing viewing experience.  There is some fantastic cephalopod behaviour, from the octopus adapting her hunting tactics for different prey, to strategies for outwitting predators and incredible colour and shape morphology.  Foster is also keen to point out how little we know about octopuses and that there is a great opportunity to learn something with every dive.

One of my favourite observations made by Foster at the end of the film is that by going into the water for liberation from daily life’s concerns and dramas, he realised how precious these wild places are.  As he starts to care about all the animals there, even the most minuscule, he comes to find that each one is both important and vulnerable.  Foster finds that his relationship with the octopus changes him and he feels a part of the kelp forest rather than just a visitor, an experience he then shares with his son.  To me Foster’s insight that we must connect with an environment in order to be truly motivated to protect it resonated very strongly.  For those fortunate enough to fall in love with our wilder environments and connect with them, seeing it mirrored in this documentary is quite moving.

Overall we very much enjoyed the film, especially the weird and wonderful behaviours caught on screen and the story as it unfolds.  Though our first reaction was one of pure jealousy (that Foster has such a stunning local dive spot and coastal property!) we soon moved past the envy and found My Octopus Teacher to be a very relaxing and enjoyable evening’s entertainment, which we highly recommend.

For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Paul Rose about the ‘For The Love of Sharks’ event this Friday (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff talks to Paul Rose about the ‘For The Love of Sharks’, an event being held online by The Shark Trust at 7pm BST on this Friday – 25th September – where Paul is a guest speaker.

You can find out more about the event which also features Scubaverse’s Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown HERE.

Visit The Shark Trust website to book tickets to the event HERE!

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