WATCH: Rare Footage Shows Male Cuttlefish Gallantly Defending His Mate Against Other Male
For the first time, marine researchers were able to capture the cinematic battle between two male cuttlefish fighting over a female cuttlefish.
Analysis of the cuttlefish fight footage, published in the journal American Naturalist, showed that a fight between two male cuttlefish includes complex interactions and signals.
"They have a whole repertoire of behaviors that they use to signal to each other, and we're just barely starting to understand some of them," said Justine Allen, an adjunct instructor at Brown University and one of the authors of the study, in a press release. "Most of these battles are actually these beautiful, stunning skin displays. It's a vicious war of colors."
The cuttlefish video was taken in 2011 by Allen and Derya Akkaynak of the University of Haifa while they were diving in the Aegean Sea. At first, Allen and Akkaynak were filming a male and female cuttlefish mating, which lasted about four minutes. After copulation, the male cuttlefish followed and guarded the female for about five minutes. Then suddenly, a second male cuttlefish appeared out of nowhere and stole the female away.
Both male cuttlefish displayed bizarre posturing of aggression, such as flashing skin colors, raising stiff arms and dilating their w-shaped pupils. When the second male cuttlefish tried to make a move and mate with the female, the first male did not sat idle and began attacking the second male.
The male cuttlefish began to grapple each other and spurt ink. The first male was able to grab the unwanted suitor and managed to spin him in three rapid barrel rolls. The second male was able to slip free from the first male and swam away. On the other hand, the first male claimed victory and got back to the female cuttlefish.
Cuttlefish is a marine animal distinguishable by their large, w-shaped pupils, eight arms and two tentacles furnished with denticulated suckers. Mostly found in shallow, temperate waters, cuttlefish is known to chow down small mollusks, crabs, shrimps, octopus, worms, fish and even other cuttlefish.