Bright marine creatures call Weymouth waters home

First published in Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

SIX of the marine world’s brightest creatures can call Weymouth home thanks to a unique new breeding programme.

The new facility at Weymouth Sea Life Park has already hatched and reared six flamboyant cuttlefish.

The tiny Australian cephalopods – relatives of octopus and squid – can put on an amazing lightshow, flashing through an astonishing range of colours with the aid of millions of tiny ink-sacs in their skin.

Chris Brown, Weymouth Sea Life marine expert, said: “They use their colour-changing abilities to communicate with each other and also to provide camouflage in tropical reefs.

“Some of the Weymouth hatchlings will go to the Brighton Sea Life Centre, where scientists are engaged in long-term research of cuttlefish camouflage skills.”

Even the Ministry of Defence has been taking a keen interest in the Govern-ment-sponsored research.

Computer programmes based on cuttlefish colour-shifting techniques may one day be employed by military vehicles to help them adopt camouflage for any terrain.

Mr Brown added: “It sounds far-fetched but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it could provide future tanks with the equivalent of Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility.”

He added that the Park’s objective was to provide as many of its 40-plus aquariums worldwide with captive-bred display creatures.

Weymouth’s marine experts are avoiding handling the cuttlefish, as their skin contains a potentially lethal toxin.

The poison is thought to deter predators.

The eggs came from London’s Horniman Museum Aquarium which successfully bred flamboyant cuttlefish for the first time in the UK.

There is also much anticipation at Weymouth as another species, the Indonesian dwarf cuttlefish is currently also laying eggs.

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