Wildlife of The Solway Firth 79 – The Little Cuttle
Wildlife of The Solway Firth 79 – The Little Cuttle Sepiola Atlantica
The Little Cuttle, also known as the Bobtail Squid, really is small as it only reaches a maximum length of 5-6 cm during its short lifespan, but despite this it has an almost global distribution where the seabed is sandy.
It is in fact more closely related to Squid as it does not possess the internal cuttlebone found in Cuttlefish. They are generally pale in colour, with brown or reddish blotches which can rapidly change in intensity thanks to chromatophores in their skin surface.
The sea is full of predators that include Little Cuttles in their diet, including seabirds like Terns, fish like Whiting and even marine mammals like Dolphins, so this cute little animal spends most of the time hidden under the surface of the sand with just its eyes showing, as it too is on the lookout for prey. They will consume small shrimps and prawns which are seasonally plentiful in shallow estuaries like The Solway Firth, reaching out at lightning speed with their feeding tentacles when prey is in range. If they are startled and threatened ink can be pumped out from an internal sack, enough for them to make good an escape like naval vessels smoke-screening during the world wars!
No depth of knowledge is yet available as regards their ecology and reproductive biology, but we know the female can lay up to 160 eggs. We have kept them at the lake District Coast Aquarium as they are easily caught when out shrimping, but they are difficult to exhibit due to small size and being masters of camouflage.
by Mark Vollers