Look out for ‘tagged’ cuttlefish on the Sussex coast

 Sussex Wildlife Trust are asking people to look out for cuttlefish washed up on the Sussex coast that have been tagged with little chips. If found, and returned, the finder can look forward to a £50 cash award. 

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Erin Pettifer, Marine Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, is asking people walking along Sussex beaches this autumn to keep their eyes peeled for washed up cuttlefish and cuttlefish bones for a very beneficial reason. If you find one with a tag in it and return it to… you could earn yourself a £50 finders fee. This is part of the English Channel Cuttlefish Project.
 
The University of Caen, France has started a project called “CRESH” (Cuttlefish Recruitment frim English Channel Spawning Habitats). The project, involving both French and English researchers and fishery managers, aims to:
  •       Improve the understanding of suitable habitats for reproductions
  •      To investigate environmental factors on growth and survival of juveniles
  •      To generate recommendations for fisheries.
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Cuttlefish have been tagged by researchers at the Marine Biological Association in order to track their movement around the English Channel. The tags are roughly a few square centimetres in size. In order for the researchers to retrieve the data and for the project to be successful they need the tagged cuttlefish returned.
 
 
Cuttlefish are being studied in this way as they are a shared resource that is fished in the English Channel by both France and UK fishing fleets, which present an increasingly important part of fishermen’s income in both countries.
 
Despite the name, cuttlefish are not fish; they are molluscs and are much more than just a calcium supplement for birds. They belong to the class cephalopods, which also include squid, octopuses and nautiluses. Recent studies have shown that they are one of the most intelligent invertebrates, and have one of the largest brain-to-body ratios.
 
 
Cuttlefish facts:
 
  •       They have eight arms and two tentacles
  •        Life expectancy is about 1-2 years
  •        Have the ability to see backwards
  •       Range in size from 15cm to 25cm
  •       They eat small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopuses, worms and other cuttlefish
  •       Their predators are dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds and other cuttlefish
  •       Have a very sharp beak
  •       Are able to change colour very quickly for camouflage
  •       Have three hearts – 1 for each set of gills and 1 for the rest of the body
  •       Have green blood
  •       Shoot ink like octopuses, but is dark brown and called sepia
  •       Keep buoyancy like submarines