Raja Ampat is rightly known as the most biodiverse marine ecosystem in the world. The abundance of healthy coral reefs and marine species is a diver’s dream. For this series, we will be highlighting a few of our favourite marine creatures that you can see during your visit to the region.
The Cuttlefish is a truly unique sea creature. Found seemingly hovering a few centimeters above the reef with a strange glimmering effect, it will then suddenly propel away with the effect reminiscent of a UFO in a Sci-Fi movie. This alien-like mollusc has a soft outer body with an internal shell known as the cuttlebone. Air/water chambers are used to regulate its buoyancy, allowing it to hover gracefully.
The Cuttlefish uses a fin that surrounds the bottom of the body to swim. When the need for faster movement arises, the fin is shaped to suck in and then forcefully displace water, similar to that of a water jet engine.
While the Cuttlefish can quickly escape predators using this technique, it is also a master at distraction and camouflage.
When threatened, the Cuttlefish can release an ink-like substance to provide an opportunity to escape. Furthermore, Cuttlefish are able to instantly change colour and texture to perfectly match that of the environment. Watching a cuttlefish undergo this transformation is an incredible experience, as this not only allows them to hide from predators but also makes them the perfect hunters. Using their camouflage, they can stalk and hunt larger fish, crabs, squid, and even other Cuttlefish.
The Cuttlefish can also see in all light conditions and directly above and behind them; this is done by reshaping their eye shape. The Cuttlefish definitely is the Predator Alien of the sea.
There are over 100 known species of Cuttlefish varying in size and location. The giant Cuttlefish has been known to weigh as much as 10kg. In Raja Ampat it is possible to spot Cuttlefish from the size of a nail to one the size of a foot.
Be sure to keep a keen eye out for these critters as often it will be a blink, and you miss it moment when you encounter these on a dive.