Flamboyant Cuttlefish. You heard me.

19Nov09

A note to Flamby’s many fans:

I am consistently surprised and pleased that this post is so popular — its very rewarding to see how many hits it gets. I should state right up front that I do NOT have the rights to Flamby’s portrait at the bottom — so if you’re copying this for any reason, you are as vulnerable to an infringement of copyright suit as I am. May Flamby protect us!

Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by. (Hey, leave a comment while you’re here — all fan mail will be forwarded to Flamby, although I cannot guarantee a reply because he’s usually too busy being awesome.)

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I have had a number of favorite animals over the years, from “Kitty!” in my youth to wombats, ocelots, hedgehogs, coelocanths, manatees… You will notice, I’m sure, that all of these names are fun to say.

But you can send ’em all back to the wild (except the “Kitty!”) because I have found my one true love, drumroll….

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The Flamboyant Cuttlefish

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Oh my stars and garters, is this little guy ever cool! Cuttlefish in general are pretty fantastic — did you know they change colors to talk to each other? That when they’re trying to catch something, they’ll make colors ripple up and down their skin to confuse the prey? Check out this annoyingly narrated video.

And they swim, of course — they’re like little octopuses (yes, octopuses) with amazingly large heads. And they have amazingly large brains, which is pretty fantastic in and of itself because they are short-lived, just one or two years. Generally, short-lived critters do not bother with large brains — they wanna get in, breed, get out. These guys are anomalies — and by and large, anomalies are completely cool.

But an anomaly even among these anomalies is… my favorite animal forever and ever… The Flamboyant Cuttlefish.

And why? Why? I’ll tell you why: because they can WALK, that’s why!

Even if they couldn’t walk they’d be completely cool. They have tentacles like any other cuttlefish and AND! they have these long sticky light-saber-lookin’ tongues that they stick out very… slowly… and then ZAP! some unfortunate little critter in the sand. And they have the fancy-pantsiest coloring ever. I can’t describe it except to say that it looks like the Aurora Borealis, except tiny and underwater. And also they can WALK!  Looky here! (Warning: Ricky Martin soundtrack).

But here’s the question: How does this little guy survive? Flamboyant Cuttlefish are very little, and very squishy. They have NO natural defenses — they even blink on and off like a neon sign at the side of the road: “Eats! Eats! Eats!” As a matter of fact, that’s their one little kung-fu fighter move: when something threatens, they sort of rise up and flash even more tasty colors. It’s sort of like our spazzy little dog Milo raising his hackles at the UPS guy. Yeah, sorry Pookie, no one is buying it.

And they would be easy prey — they live on ocean floors with very little around — they need an open field for hunting (and WALKING!) That also means no handy hidey holes and, as I mentioned, they can swim but, as it turns out, they kinda suck at it.

So where do these guys get off ambling along, looking yummy, and just flashing some bright colors when something big swims by: “Ooh, I’m so scary! I’m bright! I might be poisonous!” And getting away with it, actually, because the bigger fish do actually steer clear.

Well! As it turns out, and no one knew this until just recently, they ARE poisonous! I don’t know how biologists missed this; I would have thought that surely one of them would have picked one up for a snack. “Geez, I’m starving… Hm. THIS looks tasty… ohnopoison(slump)!” Or, like, noticed that when other fish did take a bite, they spit the thing back out?

But little old Flamby sez “Whatev.” He doesn’t care what we know or think about him. He doesn’t care if we find him fascinating or inspiring; he doesn’t even care if we blog about him. He’s just WALKING along, hum de dum, doing his amazing, flamboyant little things and being awesome because he can’t help it.

Yeah, so I'm awesome. So what?

Walk on, little Flamby… walk on.

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