After months waiting for their time in the limelight , a new invertebrate species finally has gone on display in the Boneless Beauties gallery. All hail and welcome to the tiny-but-mighty Striped Pyjama Squid (Sepioloidea lineolata).
Pyjama Squid are found in East Indian and Southwest Pacific Oceanic waters near Australia, where they spend much of their time on the seafloor employing pigment-containing cells called chromatophores to camouflage themselves from prey and predator alike. About 50 of these tiny cephalopods were added to the tank recently, and despite their tendency to hang out in one spot , they are, to quote Senior Aquarist Crossley and Aquarist II Rachel Thayer “a-DOR-able.” (Also, they're toxic.)
“They’re so named because they look like they’re wearing striped PJs,” Thayer says. “It’s generally believed this coloration is a warning to potential predators that they are toxic and should be avoided.”
Despite their apparent immobility, Pyjama Squid are ambush predators. During feeding time, they burst into action, shooting out a feeding tentacle from their hiding spots in the substrate to seize prey (or chunks of seafood, as is more likely the case at the Aquarium).
Eagle-eyed visitors may notice that, despite their name, the Striped Pyjama Squid’s appearance and its eating habits make it sound an awful lot like a cuttlefish. If you've reached that conclusion; you’re right! Taxonomically, Pyjama Squid are categorized under the same order as other cuttlefish but within a distinct family.
“However, they’re set apart from the rest of cuttlefish for a reason,” Thayer says. “They don’t have cuttlebones, they have different life strategies, different sizes/shapes, etc.”
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there is currently a lack of sufficient data to determine the conservation status and potential threats to the Striped Pyjama Squid.