Showing posts tagged as "cuttlefish"
Our crazy cuttlefish egg bubbler may have been made from household items for $2.50, but most of our animal care efforts cost a great deal more than that! How much more? Find out and help us by donating to our Fund for the Animals.
A Better Bubbler
How do you incubate cuttlefish eggs behind the scenes in preparation for our forthcoming “Tentacles” special exhibition? You could, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, buy commercial incubators. But that would be too easy. Plus, Aquarist Bret Grasse figured he could create something just as good as the store-bought jobs.
For $2.50 and “a day in the life of one volunteer,” he makes a better bubbler out of soda bottles, plastic tubing and silicone glue. It looks like mad science, but it works. To date, he’s produced hundreds of baby cuttlefish for exhibit using the system.
The First Step: Drink the Soda
Bret and his husbandry colleagues have been working on this fabulous fizzer for about four years. The challenge is to “get the greatest number of healthy hatchlings” from a given clutch. He could let nature do its job, by having the cuttlefish mom rear the little ones. But ironically, this doesn’t always achieve the best outcome, says Bret. The mom sometimes forgets where she left the clutches, or neglects them. Plus, removing the eggs and raising them separately allows mom to focus on what she does best: laying more eggs.
The first step in making the world’s best egg bubbler is the easiest: drink the soda. That done, Bret cuts the bottle in half, and affixes a small screen between the two pieces. The bottom end, where the cap used to be, also has a screen. Then the whole thing is submerged. Next, a tube injects air into the top half of the bubbler, drawing water oh-so-gently up through the whole device, and aerating the eggs with the perfect fizziness—not too much, not too little.
A Cuttlefish the Size of a Pea
While the cuttlefish eggs do their dance in the bubbler, Bret watches and waits. Eventually, the faintest trace of a baby cuttlefish appears in the egg, and an eyespot. When they finally hatch, they’re the size of a pea. The whole thing takes only a few weeks. The baby cuttlefish can then go on exhibit, where they reach their three-inch full grown size in about three months.
So far, the bubblers have been used for pharaoh, flamboyant and dwarf cuttlefish, but more species are being considered as we get closer to the launch of the new exhibit April 12.
“We’re so fortunate to have the opportunity to experiment with these techniques,” says Bret. “It not only helps us produce animals for exhibit, but it plays into our conservation mission, by reducing pressure on wild stocks.
“It’s a dream come true for me, Chris Payne and Alicia Bitondo,” says Bret. “We couldn’t be happier to work with these animals and do this kind of troubleshooting.”
Plus, the soda is free.
They’re called cuttlefish, but we completely understand when visitors mistakenly call them “cuddle” fish. They’re very high on the cuteness scale! We have 28 juvenile pharaoh cuttlefish on exhibit now in the Splash Zone, raised from eggs that were laid on exhibit.
And here’s an insider tip: this winter we’ll be working on a new special exhibition devoted to octopuses, cuttlefish and their kin, to open in the spring. We hope you like it!
What’s the best way to chronicle a visit to the Aquarium? We just love these computer drawings from 10-year-old visitor Anushka Karkera of Fremont, CA!
Here’s something to look for on your next visit: pharaoh cuttlefish eggs! We always like it when animals reproduce on exhibit, as it’s a sign that we’ve created a healthy environment. Hope you’re having a great weekend!
Planning a visit over spring break? We just added some pharaoh cuttlefish to our Splash Zone exhibit. It’s amazing to watch them hover just above the ocean floor and hunt food with their long tentacles. They’re visitor faves!
Dress to impress: How the cool cuttlefish uses its color-changing skills to attract a mate.
Cuttlefish may be cute, but they’re armed to hunt! When a shrimp or fish is in range, the cuttlefish aims—and shoots out tentacles to seize its prey. We’re working with this species, the flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi), for possible future exhibit. Learn more.
Did you know that we’re always investigating new species for future exhibits? Our cuttlefish specialist, Bret Grasse, is currently working with this beautiful broadclub cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) behind the scenes!
These guys look like they don’t mess around! We have 15 dwarf cuttlefish (Sepia bandensis) on exhibit in the Splash Zone. This species is known to frequent the waters off Indonesia, Phillipines and Papua New Guinea. Ours are about six months old, and 2 1/2 inches long.