e-Science : Oct 2016 Issue 18
Click for slideshow After hundreds of emails and months of searching we collated our data and analysed it. To our surprise we didn’t find cyclical patterns of abundance, but rather a steady increase in cephalopods over the last six decades. What was also remarkable is that we also observed consistent, long-term increases in a diverse group of cephalopods, which inhabit everything from rock pools to open oceans. This suggested to us that something is going on in the marine environment on a large scale that is advantageous to cephalopods. Although we didn’t solve our cuttlefish mystery, since commencing this study cuttlefish numbers from the breeding aggregation are bouncing back, so it’s a good news story all round! Cephalopods: the ultimate in adaptable design So why would cephalopods be increasing in our oceans? Let’s dig a little deeper. Although cephalopods are molluscs (and therefore related to snails, shellfish and other sluggish creatures), don’t be fooled by their taxonomic allegiances. Cephalopods are affectionately known as “fast molluscs” and have a unique set of characteristics that allow them to adapt rapidly to changing environmental conditions. For instance, they grow continuously and rapidly throughout their lives (unlike humans!), have short lifespans (1 to 2 years), super-charged metabolisms and flexible life histories.
May 2016 Issue 17