Metasepia pfefferi
Metasepia pfefferi

Common Name: Pfeffer's Flamboyant CuttlefishDescription: Very colorful, exotic looking species. It has a very broad, oval mantle. The arms are broad and similar to blades, with the first arm pair being shorter than the rest. Both sexes have narrow protective membranes. The arm suckers are arranged in four rows. The modified arm, called the hectocotylus, is born on the left ventral arm. The oral surface of the hectocotylus is wide, swollen, and fleshy. It has transversely grooved ridges and a deep furrow running along the middle. The sucker-bearing surface of the tentacular clubs is flattened. Five or six suckers arranged in transverse rows. The suckers vary a lot in size. The largest is located near the center of the club. Three to four medium suckers are quite big too, occupying most of middle portion of the club. The swimming keel of the club extends quite far, near to the carpus. The dorsal and ventral protective membranes are not joined at the base of the club. Instead, they are fused to the tentacular stalk. Dorsal and ventral membranes are different 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 species of cuttlefish is the only one known to walk upon the sea floor. Due to the small size of its cuttlebone, located in its anterior, it can float only for a short time. This type of cuttlefish is actually pretty small, only six to eight centimeters in mantle length. The dorsal surface of the mantle bears three pairs of large, flat, flap-like papillae. Papillae are also present over the eyes.

Size of Metasepia pfefferi in comparison to a human fingertip.
Size of Metasepia pfefferi in comparison to a human fingertip.



Habitat and biology

This cuttlefish resides in sand and mud substrate in shallow waters at depths ranging from 3 to 86 m. The species is active during the day. It hunts fish and crustaceans. It uses complex and varied camouflage to follow its prey. The actual base color of this organism is dark brown. Individuals that are disturbed and/or attacked quickly change colour to a pattern of black, dark brown, and white, with yellow patches around the mantle, arms, and eyes. The arm tips tend to show bright red coloration to ward off possible predators. The flesh of this cuttlefish is poisonous, containing a unique toxin.

Reproduction

Reproduction 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 uses the sperm to fertilize her eggs. She lays the eggs in crevices or ledges in wood, coral, or rock. Freshly laid eggs are white, but eventually turn transparent, making the developing cuttlefish clearly visible. From birth, the young cuttlefish are capable of the same camouflage patterns as the adults of the same species.

Commercial value

A toxicology report has found and confirmed that the muscle tissue of this species of cuttlefish is highly toxic. It is one of only three known toxic cephalopods. Research by Mark Korman from Museum Victoria in Australia has shown the toxin is as lethal as that of the blue-ringed octopus. M. pfefferi is not used for food due to its poisonous nature.



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