What do you call an animal that can saunter on four legs like a gorilla, gallop slowly like a horse or pulse like a striped bumblebee wearing a fluttering tutu? Why a cuttlefish of course! These little octopus-relatives are called flamboyant cuttlefish Metasepia pfefferia and they're star attractions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Tentacle exhibit. Native to northern Australia, they can very hard to find in the wilds but here I can visit them any day of the week. Some of the aquarists call them rainbow rhinoceros!
Monterey is one of the few aquariums raising and displaying such rare cuttlefish. Their valuable services reduce the need to harvest individuals from the wild.
Cuttlefish aren't very cuddly however. They get their name from the calcium rich porous cuttlebone inside their bodies. They can fill that bone with air or water to control their buoyancy in the water column. Recent studies show cuttlefish also sport tiny amounts of a deadly toxin. But what I find so magical are their breath-taking displays--like the passing cloud display this little fellow in the video is doing to attract a nearby mate. When they feel they are in danger they can also squirt out ink in the shape of a cuttlefish and jet away. That inky decoy is called a pseudomorph (SU- DOE-morf). Cool trick eh? Hard not to fall in love with these fantastic fellows.