Mating: cuttlefish in love

Unlike humans, cuttlefish do not live for very long. Most cuttlefish only live for a few years. But, they end their lives with quite a show! Cuttlefish typically breed and lay eggs at the ends of their lifespans, creating dazzling mating dances along the way.

Female cuttlefish are fickle creatures, and they are not easily swayed by the attempts the males make to woo them. As a result, female cutlefish tend to stay out of way and watch, or simple play "hard to get" with their male coutnerparts.

Male cuttlefish, meanwhile, desire to mate with female cuttlefish and have offspring of their own. And in roder to do that, they have to impress the females. They achieve this by showing off their most dazzling displays of color, and and trying to outdo other, competing males in contests of color. They tend to get into fights with the competition as well, to prove to the females that they are the strongest, and best choice for her to mate with.

Two cuttlefish mating.

However, the fickle female cuttlefish isn't always going to be convinced by these "manly" males. Scientist have noticed that smaller males have their own tactics for getting a mate, and they are very bizarre. While smaller male cuttlefish cannot hope to compete in the clashes of larger males, they use the good old trickery card to get the females to come to them.

Instead of trying to win a fight like the other males, these smaller males masquarade as females; basically crossdressing in order to get past the bigger males, and move into rather cozily among the females. This works very well, because the larger males tend to ignore and be fooled by these "females", and let them move away from the fights. Even when a male is guarding a female cuttlefish from other males, he is often fooled by "female" cuttlefish, and he basically lets the female cheat on him.

Females, on the other hand, have a higher chance of mating with the crossdressing males. Would it be because they are impressed by how clever these "females" are, or is it simply because the masquarading males can just get closer to them than the larger males?

The male cuttefish then mates with the female cuttlefish, by handing her a packet filled with his sperm, which the female collects. Many males may mate with a female cuttlefish, however, she is the one who chooses which packet she uses to fertilize, and eventually lay, her eggs. So, despite whether they are the strongest in the sea, or simply the most feminine in appearance, male cuttlefish will always be gambling their chances of success of the choices made by the female.

The eggs of Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish.

When the cuttlefish are finished mating, it about is the end of their short lives. Male cuttlefish die soon after mating, and females take the time to lay their eggs, and shortly after, they die, as well. However, the eggs will develop into new cuttlefish in time, creating a new generation of cuttlefish. Cuttlefish eggs typically take about fifty days to develop depending on the temperature of the waters, and infant cuttlefish are born much more developed then an octopus.The eyes of a baby cuttlefish are fully developed near the end of its time in the egg, and once hatched, they often hunt whatever they have seen swimming outside of their egg.

Two baby cuttlefish.

Baby cuttlefish are often very tiny, but they are perfect miniatures of their parents. Once hatched, baby cuttlefish are fully capable of hunting and color-changing just like their parents. They grow very rapidly and are quickly mature adults, and they too, will reproduce in about one or two years.