Cuttlefish Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

Cuttlefish are some of the weirdest-looking sea creatures. These masters of disguise have fascinated scientists for many years. Read on to learn some interesting facts about the cuttlefish.

Characteristics of Cuttlefish

If you could have any super power, what would it be? The ability to fly, read people's minds, or perhaps become invisible? If you chose the last option, then your super power would give you something in common with the cuttlefish. Although they're not actually invisible, cuttlefish have their own super power of blending in with their environment so they sometimes appear invisible. Before we talk about this cool feature, let's look at some other characteristics of this mysterious animal.

Don't let the name fool you. Cuttlefish are not fish, but are actually mollusks, or soft bodied animals without backbones. They're a certain type of mollusk, called a cephalopod, that has arms or tentacles, usually eight or ten. Like their cousins, the squid and octopus, cuttlefish have three hearts and use ink to confuse predators.

Cuttlefish are small- to medium-sized with an elongated body and large eyes. Their odd look comes from their tentacles being around their mouth. They have a short life span of up to three years, and they are found in oceans all over the world. Apparently, they're not picky about where they live; they've been found in deep, cold waters and warm, tropical oceans.

Notice the long body, large eyes, and tentacles around the mouth.
picture of a cuttlefish

Masters of Disguise

The most well-known, interesting feature of the cuttlefish is their complex ability to camouflage, or blend in with their environment. Many animals can do this, but cuttlefish can change the color, pattern, and even texture of their skin!

Cuttlefish have 10 million color cells, which can be individually controlled. They use these cells to change their color based on the environment they're in at a given time. For example, two cuttlefish 20 feet away from each other can look totally different from each other because their surroundings look different.

We know that mixing blue and red paint will make purple. Cuttlefish use this same concept to make themselves appear many different colors. They can also change the pattern of their skin to look like spots, stripes, or any other pattern found in the ocean. A neat trick cuttlefish have is changing the shape of their skin to look like kelp, coral, or rocks. They do this in a matter of seconds.

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