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Cuttlefish in captivity: an investigation into housing and husbandry for improving welfare

DWhatley

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#1
Cuttlefish in captivity: an investigation into housing and husbandry for improving welfare Belinda M Tonkins, Alexandra M Tyers, Gavan M Cooke 2015 (subscription)

Abstract
The European cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is often kept in public aquaria, is becoming more common in aquaculture, and is also the most frequently used cephalopod in European research. Since the 1st January 2013 all cephalopods (Mollusca) have been protected under UK/EU law (A(SP)A 1986, European Directive 2010/63/EU), following Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Presently, unlike other organisms used in research, there is no detailed specific guidance available from UK/EU legislators on best practices for keeping cuttlefish. In captivity, juveniles can easily become damaged by impacting with tank walls when startled. These injuries rarely heal and can have a major impact on growth and survival. Six experiments were performed, using juvenile and adult cuttlefish, in which exhibition of thigmotaxis in different environments, responses to simulated husbandry in different scenarios, and responses to typical and novel forms of enrichment (e.g. photographs of substrates) and refuges was investigated. Refuge use was also investigated, including response to husbandry when different refuges were provided. In addition to thigmotaxis, the frequency of negative behaviours (such as those likely indicating stress or preceding damaging behaviours) were recorded. The results suggest that certain environments, clothing/equipment and refuges/enrichment can significantly reduce the frequency of negative behaviours. It was also found fake seaweed and photographs of substrates placed in tanks may be used by cuttlefish with the benefit of preventing localised pollution. We conclude by providing an evidence based guide to improving husbandry practices, which could improve the lives of captive cuttlefish.
 

gjbarord

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#2
Just read the whole article. D, I can send it to you if you'd like. I won't nit pick here... I'll just say that I do not really see anything new from this other than possibly using photographs under glass tanks if no substrate is possible. Just seems like they could have done so much more on this project that would encompass one complete paper rather than just doing what they did.

Greg
 

DWhatley

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#3
Thanks for the summary Greg, I'll pass on asking for this one HOWEVER, there is still the one from Anna Bidder that I would like to have. I just reread Peter Ward's book - something I almost never do - and feel like I could read it again for all the info kind of packed into enjoyable reading.
 

gjbarord

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#4
Hi D,

Just emailed it to you. I agree, I've read Peter's book a couple times. So much in there!

Greg
 

DWhatley

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#5
A followup article by the same authors - includes several tables of behaviors and their intrepretation

Behavioural indicators of welfare exhibited by the common European cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)
Gavan M. Cooke* and Belinda M. Tonkins 2015 (pdf)

Abstract The common European cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is frequently found in public aquaria in Europe. These remarkable creatures make fantastic display animals due to their rapid colour/texture/behaviour changes associated with feeding or camouflage. They possess extremely fragile bodies and soft tissues, adaptations thought to have evolved to evade predators, and in captivity cuttlefish can damage easily when startled or fleeing perceived threats and these injuries rarely heal, can cause permanent damage and even death. Knowing the signals which typically occur before damaging behaviours can reduce such incidents and therefore dramatically improve their welfare. Another aspect of captive animal welfare is providing suitable enrichment. Cuttlefish are adept at revealing how they feel about their present circumstances through deimatic displays, threat signals and defensive behaviours. Here, based on approximately two thousand hours of observations a very detailed welfare-focused behaviour table, a table summarising tank requirements/enrichment in cephalopods and an example care sheet derived from the observations are presented. This paper provides the resources to determine and prevent behaviours likely to precede damaging behaviours. Collating behaviours and sharing them with aquarists can be a valuable tool in preventing injuries and assessing wellbeing in captive animals.
 

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