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I shall now notice the
In the summer months these creatures are found in vast numbers on the southern and western coasts of Great Britain, following the mackerel, pilchard and sprat, when they approach the shore, into every nook and corner of the coast; and are reliable bait used by all the long-shore fishermen throughout the autumn, when engaged in catching conger and pollack, etc. At times they are a great pest to the drift fishermen, watching their nets and biting the fish there, and, when nearly satiated, eating out their eyes, for they seldom devour wholly one fish, but rather prefer a tit-bit from the back, between the head and dorsal fin. They are caught in turn by the fisherman putting a large tough bait on a fine line, and, when it is covered by the arms of the cuttle for the purpose of drawing it to its beak, pulling it as gently as possible to the surface; then with a rod, at the end of which are fastened several hooks, he gaffs the creature. They seldom leave the coasts until after spawning, which seems to be performed in the quiet hours between the storms in November and December.
These duties are carried out close to the shore, so near indeed that I have many times seen scores left on the beach by the ebbing tide. The males much aways present and larger than the females. Their mode of reproduction seems to be of a very peculiar nature. Mr. Couch in his Journal stated that from reliable evidence, which he gave, the loligo cuttle seems to produce its young alive. also thought the same and sent what appeared to be young cuttles, cut from the parent to the late Mr. Frank Buckland, Dr. Day, of Cheltenham, and others, who seemed to have no doubt on the subject, and urged me to continue
to watch the foetus until its final development. Nevertheless, although I examined the family for years, I made no further progress except in finding that when these forms touched a cold surface a muscular action took place; and what appeared to be the young cuttle was flung clean out of the sac which enveloped it.
In the meantime a friend had set some up for microscopic purposes; and beautiful objects they were, for the whole creature seems bound up so compactly and securely. At a later date I sent a few specimens to Mr. Thomas Bolton, of Birmingham, a microscopist of repute, and he asserted that they were not young cuttles but the spermatozoa of the male. Presuming this statement true, to be of this order they were massive forms indeed, as each of them ran from twelve to fifteen lines in length and less than a line in breadth, and was of needle form. In situ they are held in a bag containing several thousands, about two-thirds down the body, with a duct running from it into the open near the neck, when congress is near. This canal contains many of these forms ready for exit; but there seems no possibility of their reaching the female excepting by the assistance of the long tentacles belonging to the creature, which possibly might take hold of them and pass them to their final destination.
On examining the female a mass of gelatinous matter was found at the extreme end of the mantle having the appearance of eggs about the size of common peas, fused in a lump; but how they could be separated and the spermatozoa deposited in each is the difficulty. With our present slight knowledge it is impossible to say what might be done by these two creatures working in harmony, each using the longest
The largest loligo I have seen measured three feet eight inches without at
tempting to stretch its tentacles. Like the fishes, they seem to sleep with one eye closed at a time, as I have seen them resting on the sea-bottom for this purpose; and when the bait fell near the sleeping side it was unobserved, but when dropped on the other it was gripped at once.
Their enemies are all the carnivorous fishes, which they often evade, either by evolution, fight or mimicry; for all of which devices they have some special adaptations.
In the first instance, they have two tough flexible fins or wings, high on the back, which enable them to swim forwards or backwards without turning, which is an accommodation of great utility in either attack or retreat.
Then, their eyes are so situated as almost to command a circle; this also in a fight is invaluable, for they can see all their enemies and know their power, and can advance or retire as the occasion may require. Then besides their ink bag they have a very muscular siphon enabling them to shoot their enemies, in the air some ten feet, and in the sea some three or four feet away.
Not long ago a friend of mine saw a skirmish between a loligo and its enemy in which the cuttle came off the victor. He was fishing in the clear water of Mevagissey Bay, and, wishing to catch a John Dorée, he tied the end of his line to the tail of a live young sea bream and threw it into the sea. Now a Dorée is very fond of living food, and likes to swallow it head foremost. This suits the fisherman, as when devoured in this form the spines of the bream act as hooks to the fisherman's line, and are sure to bring all on board.
The bream had not got far down in the sea before a cuttle saw it, and quickly fastened on to the back of its neck; and before any steps were taken
to scare it away, a large Dorée was
seen coming to the front. There was no doubt or hesitation about its purpose, for it was seen that it desired to swallow the lot, as it was quietly going forward all the time, but taking a side view as the opportunity best offered. When about five feet from its quarry, there was a violent rush on it, with jaws wide open, but there was just as quick action on the other side, for the contents of the ink bag were as quickly shot into the open mouth. In an instant, with the impetus of the rush, the Dorée was in a cloud of thick darkness which the cuttle had also put between them, when he slunk away out of sight.
The Dorée also soon made its appearance out of the muddle in a dreadful state; its eyes rolled as if in terror, and its beautiful olive skin had turned deadly pale, while its coughing and fuming was something to be remembered, black matter being again and again expectorated from gills and mouth. It was really thought that the creature was about to die, and the gaff was got ready to take it on board, for it had floated up within four feet of the boat, but noting her outline it gently sank into the depths below.
Their shooting out of water is generally directed against the fisherman when gaffing them for bait, his face being always their target, unless he has anything about him of a white color, when this arrests their attention.
I once remember having a noted London doctor out at sea for a little amateur fishing. He would like to see a loligo cuttle caught, he said. I warned him of what was likely to happen when gaffing was on, but he did not care. "Surely," he said, "I can dodge such guess-work as this must be, for so short a time." I felt dubious as to the result, seeing his white shirt was a prominent object through his having such an open vest. Finally a cuttle took the bait, and as I drew
it towards us the doctor lost all thought of himself and his adornments in his admiration of the movements and the beautiful eyes of the creature, when in an instant, as I gaffed it, the whole ink charge struck him in the throat and sadly blackened his white habiliments.
As to the mimicry of these creatures. In the summer months, when really settled on the coasts, they may be found by night on any colored sea-bottom if the water is pure; and with the necessary appliances they may be caught at such times on rocks and piers jutting into the sea. But with the daylight, if possible, they make for cover or places with a dark bottom, especially where the large olive laminarian sea-weeds grow, for here they are safe, because the color of the one can be SO easily and instantly mimicked by the other. On a dark, undecided colored bottom they can also manage to assimilate themselves to its hues, and, if necessity compels them to rest on the brown sands, although unable to color brown, they can assume a kind of dead flesh color which harmonizes extremely well with their surroundings.
My last case will be the
These creatures are plentiful on the southern coasts of England and Ireland; they have not the persistent skulking and pouncing proclivities of the octopus, but often fight the battle of life in the open sea, and when hard pressed dodge in the shade, or around the corners of the rocks, and even cover themselves with sand, as the occasion suits, when hiding from their enemies, or for the capture of food. They seem to be rather susceptible to cold, and leave the shore in the early autumn, returning again to it with the early summer.
Evidently they breed on the coasts,
as their dark grape-like eggs are found in bunches attached to stones and sea-weeds, not far from land. They seem fond of a mixed diet, as when in the surface of the sea they will often pursue the fishes living there; and will sometimes feed ravenously on mackerel when meshed in the fishermen's nets; while their powerful jaws point to the probability of their being used, like others of the family, in crushing up and feeding on crabs of a considerable size when living on the sea bottom.
Their eyes are splendid objects to look at: the pupils are large and of a dark blue color, each having a beautiful nictitating membrane which comes down from above, having gentle curves on its lower edge and tinged as if with burnished silver, seeming to act as a reflector of light. Evidently this membrane is a magnificent arrangement in connection with these creatures' habits which require large pupils to their eyes for collecting the scattered rays of light, so as to see objects in the deep water of their winter home, though they must needs use the same organs when living in the great light of our summer seas. Their mechanical arrangement is not so quick as the winking process in birds and sharks; but is so slow that it can be adjusted so as to take in only necessary light.
Their ink bag is very large; and in hiding from their enemies they can fill a larger space of water with their ink than any of the cuttles. It was from these that the old artists extracted their dark coloring matter for painting their pictures.
They also possess the true cuttle bone, situated along the back, which keeps the creature in form. It is composed mostly of carbonate of lime; and by a peculiar arrangement of the plates in its formation it always floats in the sea. By this means an intimation is always given above, to those
who can notice it, of the death of every one of the family, for no creature below attempts to digest it.
Our old folks used this cuttle bone in various forms. The ladies mixed it with their cosmetics for beautifying the skin and polishing and whitening their teeth, the scholars--before blottingpaper was invented-as pounce for drying their ink quickly, and the lower classes as a medicine for colds; a teaspoonful in a cup of hot water with sugar forming a dose for a sweat.
This creature differs from the octopus in having ten arms. As before intimated, it seeks its food in many ways. When it is hunting in the open sea, and its quarry is large, at the right moment the whole muscular force of these arms is brought to bear on it; but if the food desired is small and active, other tactics are adopted; and the two long tentacles are brought into use. We know nothing in nature like it. Under these conditions the cuttle takes its ease as if asleep on the sea-bottom, assimilating its color as nearly as possible to its surroundings. The eight arms are brought so close together that they look like a miniature elephant's trunk, only a little stouter. With the two long tentacles contracted and hidden within them, on the approach of food in the shape of a prawn, small crabs or small fish, the two highest or central arms are lifted; and three others are gently moved aside so as to be out of the way of the coming dash of the hidden tentacles: the cuttle quietly moves nearer to or further from the object, so as to have it within the proper reach of this death stroke, and in a moment, like a lightning flash, sometimes quicker than the eye can follow it, these tentacles are darted out, the victim is caught and secreted in the folds of its outer arms, and torn in pieces by the merciless beak."
See also Lee's "Sea Monsters Unmasked," p.
In appearance these are the most beautiful of all the cuttles; but I question whether they are to be seen at their best in the summer months, near the shore; their great beauty seems to be especially reserved for display in the deep sea when sexual affinities are to the front, and then possibly only for a short time.
I have seen one of them with the groundwork or principal color of the skin a rich dark brown, with snowwhite zebra-like markings running down across the body about an eighth of an inch wide and less than half an inch apart, this covering the whole body and part of the arms; the fin which surrounds the body was exquisitely spotted with white or yellow. In this dress it was really one of the most attractive objects I ever saw in the sea.
Their mimicry seems easily to run in three colors; brown, yellow and white. And the creature can be instantly shaded into the whole of them when necessary. In the summer months they are very active in following young herrings, sprats, bream, red mullet, etc.; and these in the clear summer water generally keep on dark olive, weedy grounds. In following them these cuttles quickly cover their mantle a dull brown, which blends so well with the weeds that the cuttles are very difficult to be seen; while, if they have to move out on the gray sands their white zebra markings are brought out in a dull form, and the brown is softened with yellow, which gives them a very indefinite appearance, and almost hides them from view.
The largest of these creatures I ever saw was nine inches wide and about three feet long, the body and arms covering sixteen Inches, and the stretched tentacles the remainder.
In closing I may remark that there are several other cuttles belonging to our seas, all of which have more or less the power of mimicry. I might further
state that Darwin in his "Voyage of the Beagle" (see page 3) makes some interesting observations on the discovery of cuttles in a pool on the shore of the island of St. Jago. From the facts stated it may be inferred that these support the theory of voluntary mimicry in this family; for he says that these The Contemporary Review.
animals escape detection by a very extraordinary chameleon-like power of changing their colors; and that they vary their tints acording to the nature of the ground they pass over. He was much amused at the various methods used by one individual to escape detection.
HIS UNCLE DAN.
The summer after our trying experiences at Sandyport-where most of our month's holiday was spent in turning away from the cottage we had rented all the other families to whom Mr. Joseph Scorer had also let it-my wife insisted on trying the east coast. You see, she comes from the north herself, and she had, I think, an idea that as East Anglia lay nearer her native land than
Sussex or Wessex, the inhabitants would be more likely to be imbued with, or at all events to some extent tinctured with, some of the more prominent virtues, including that of honesty, than she had found the Southrons. These latter she considered spoiled by the annual inrush of Londoners all in a heap in August, which made the natives masters of the situation, and gave them opportunities for haymaking of which it was altogether too much to expect human nature not to take advantage.
We fixed on Felixstowe as our headquarters, and with our last year's experiences still very fresh in our minds we naturally reverted to lodgings. If they were not absolutely everything that could be desired-are such to be found this side Heaven?we could at all events leave them for a whole day at a time without the certainty of finding a furious father and an anxious mother and a brood of dis
tressful children clamoring for possession when we returned.
And if the Felixstowe beach did not fully answer the family requirements in the mater of sand and pools, there were compensations to be found elsewhere.
On the low-lying sandy spit near the old fort was a soldiers' camp, with drilling ground and shooting-ranges, and in these things my youngsters took the keenest interest and delight. They lay by the hour in the wire-grass and watched the shooting, and wandered over the butts when it was over and dug up treasure trove in the shape of long metal Lee-Metford cartridge cases, and conical bullets which had wandered wide among the sandhills. We bequeathed nearly a cartload of such spoil to our landlady when we went home, much to her surprise and disgust. They were never tired of lingering through the canvas streets of the camp, the houses of which bore fanciful legends in uncouth charcoal characters, the marks at once of burnt stick and a pointed, if none too polished, wit, and possibly of something of a retaliatory spirit. The "Home for Lost Dogs" struck us as hardly likely to have been so labelled by its inhabitants, but as being more probably a reply in kind from the occupants of the "Rat Pit" next door, or possibly a tu quoque from