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Rare Japanese squid bred and on show at the SeaLife Centre
The mysterious world of the squid can be studied in much more detail in Weymouth now they have been successfully bred and displayed at an aquarium for the first time ever in Britain.
The fascinating creatures are incredibly hard to rear and outgrow food sources quickly, which means they can resort to cannibalism.
Just one out of 100 survive in the wild so aquarium experts hatched double that number and monitored them carefully behind the scenes in specific water conditions.
They successfully reared 30 of the Japanese bigfin reef squid, six of which have now been placed in a tank for public viewing at the SeaLife Centre.
The 8ins long cephalopods have a fin that encircles their entire bodies and use ink sacs embedded on their skin to change colour.
The squid, native to the Pacific Ocean, also have one of the best eyesights in the marine world and are incredibly senstive to light.
The Japanese bigfin reef squid – Sepioteuthis lessonian in Latin – eat plankton and tiny shrimp but grow so quickly they are known to eat one another if they are hungry enough.
The squid have a short lifespan of just six months and in that time will grow to just over 1ft long.
Greg Casten, a senior aquarist at SeaLife, said: “The Japanese bigfin reef squid are hard to rear because they grow so fast and specific water conditions are needed.
“A bigger squid will pick on a smaller one and take the opportunity to get extra food by chasing him around the tank.
“They are very sensitive to light and so they have been kept in semi-darkness and now they are on display with reflective glass to stop any sudden flashes.
“They are one of the creatures who has the best eyesight in the marine world, and their sight is pretty similar to humans.
“The squid can change colour and go from a transparant white to dark shades of brown, but they also have flecks of green.
“They change colour when they are stressed, find food, and to show emotion, and when one changes colour the whole group eventually does too.
“We have raised about 30 of the squid but have six on display to make sure they have enough room in their tank.
“The others will be kept behind the scenes and we are hoping to captive breed from them and to find out what conditions are best to keep them in."