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|Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish|
|Environment||Mandurah, Western Australia|
Moreton Bay, Southern Queensland
New Guinea coast
Maluku Islands, Indonesia
Mabul & Sipadan, Malaysia
|Average Length||Mantle length: 6 cm (2.4 in) to 8 cm (3.1 in)|
|Related Species||Paintpot Cuttlefish|
Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish is a species of poisonous cuttlefish found in tropical Indo-Pacific waters off of northern Australia, as well as in southern New Guinea and several islands within the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish is a robust-looking species, having a very broad, oval mantle. Arms are broad and blade-like, with arm pair I being shorter than the rest. The protective membranes are narrow in both sexes. Arm suckers are arranged in four rows. The modified arm used by males for fertilisation, called the hectocotylus, is borne on the left ventral arm. The oral surface of the modified region of the hectocotylus is wide, swollen, and fleshy. It bears transversely grooved ridges and a deep furrow running along the middle. The sucker-bearing surface of the tentacular clubs is flattened, with 5 or 6 suckers arranged in transverse rows. These suckers differ greatly in size, with the largest located near the center of the club. Three to four median suckers are especially large, occupying most of middle portion of the club. The swimming keel of the club extends considerably near to the carpus. The dorsal and ventral protective membranes are not joined at the base of the club, but fused to the tentacular stalk. Dorsal and ventral membranes differ in length and extend near to the carpus along the stalk. The dorsal membrane forms a shallow cleft at the junction with the stalk. This particular species of cuttlefish is the only one known to walk upon the sea floor. Due to the small size of its cuttlebone, it can float only for a short time.
Most sources agree that Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish grows to 8 cm (3.1 in) in mantle length, although others give a maximum mantle length of 6 cm (2.4 in). The dorsal surface of the mantle bears three pairs of large, flat, flap-like papillae. Papillae are also present over the eyes.
The cuttlebone of this species is small, two-thirds to three-quarters the length of the mantle, and positioned in its anterior. Characteristic of the genus Metasepia, the cuttlebone is rhomboidal in outline. Both the anterior and posterior of the cuttlebone taper gradually to an acute point. The dorsal surface of the cuttlebone is yellowish and evenly convex. The texture throughout is smooth, lacking bumps or pustules. The dorsal median rib is absent. A thin film of chitin covers the entire dorsal surface. The cuttlebone lacks a pronounced spine; if present, it is small and chitinous. The striated zone of the cuttlebone is concave, with the last loculus being strongly convex and thick in the front third. The sulcus is deep and wide and extends along the striated zone only. Striae (furrows) on the anterior surface form an inverted V-shape. The limbs of the inner cone are very short, narrow, and uniform in width, with the U-shape thickened slightly towards the back. The cuttlebone of Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish does not possess an outer cone, unlike that of most other cuttlefish species.
Habitat and biology
Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish has been recorded from sand and mud substrate in shallow waters at depths of 3 to 86 m. The species is active during the day and has been observed hunting fish and crustaceans. It employs complex and varied camouflage to stalk its prey. The normal base color of this species is dark brown. Individuals that are disturbed or attacked quickly change color to a pattern of black, dark brown, white, with yellow patches around the mantle, arms, and eyes. The arm tips often display bright red coloration to ward off would-be predators. Animals displaying this color pattern have been observed using their lower arms to walk or "amble" along the sea floor while rhythmically waving the wide protective membranes on their arms. This behavior advertises a poisonous nature, the flesh of this cuttlefish contains a unique toxin.
Copulation occurs face-to-face, with the male inserting a packet of sperm into a pouch on the underside of the female's mantle. The female then fertilizes her eggs with the sperm. The eggs are laid singly and placed by the female in crevices or ledges in coral, rock, or wood. In one instance, around a dozen eggs were found under an overturned coconut half. They had been placed there by a female which had inserted them through the central hole of the husk. As such, the eggs were protected from predatory fish.
Freshly laid eggs are white, but slowly turn translucent with time, making the developing cuttlefish clearly visible. From birth, juvenile Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish are capable of the same camouflage patterns as adults.