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Thursday, April 8, 2004

ANIMAL TRACKER

Cuttlefish


* Japanese name: Kouika
* Scientific name:Sepia esculenta
* Description:Cuttlefish are marine animals in the same group as octopus and squid (cephalopods). They are soft-bodied but have a "bone" (actually an internal shell), which supports the mantle (body) and acts as a buoyancy regulator. Lying underneath the mantle, the bone is honeycombed and filled with gas. The cuttlefish can move up and down in the water by adjusting the ratio of gas to water in the cells of the bone. Mantle length is 18 cm and is a mottled brown color, although cuttlefish have the ability to change color. Color change may be for reasons of camouflage, sexual signaling or aggression. When the animal dies, the shell floats and can often be found washed up on beaches. Cuttlefish have eight tentacles, two longer feeding tentacles, large eyes and a siphon for jet propulsion. The siphon can be pointed in different directions, enabling the cuttlefish to steer.
* Where to find them: In the ocean around Japan. Spawning season is spring and early summer. Lifespan is about a year.
* Food: Cuttlefish are predators, their favorite food is shrimp and prawns. As well as their excellent vision, cuttlefish use tiny hairs on the head and tentacles to detect low-frequency vibrations made by their prey.
* Special features: Sepia is the scientific name of this (and several other) species of cuttlefish, and the word is also used for a red-brown pigment used in painting and a brown color used in photography. When startled, cuttlefish may squirt sepia ink from their siphon and escape under its cover. The ink is protein-based and can be produced as a mucus blob or as a dispersing cloud. Cuttlefish have excellent, binocular vision. Their pupils are W-shaped and the eyes focus by moving the lens toward or away from the retina.



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