Fears over cuttllefish decline

THEY are elusive alien-like creatures that dart through the waters off the Norfolk coast.And now colourful cuttlefish are the subject of a major hunt by a concerned marine group, which fears they may be declining in number.

THEY are elusive alien-like creatures that dart through the waters off the Norfolk coast.

And now colourful cuttlefish are the subject of a major hunt by a concerned marine group, which fears they may be declining in number.

But as divers from Norfolk Seaquest carry out their first cuttlefish survey along the Norfolk shoreline they face a challenge - trying to spot the chameleon-like cuttlefish.

Seaquest volunteers are trying to find proof of any dwindling population in the squid-like creatures, which can change their skin colour to blend into the background.


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The hunt was set up after group members noticed that the number of cuttlefish and their remains found over the last 15 year had fallen.

If numbers have declined it could mean that other aquatic species are also declining in numbers.

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So far divers have found a pair of cuttlefish off West Runton and members have discovered several washed-up cuttlebones, including one on Cley beach.

Seaquest co-ordinator Helen Nott said: “Over the last 15 years there seems to have been a decline in the number of cuttlefish found in The Wash and the north Norfolk coast.

“At Heacham, beach cuttlebones used to be commonly found washed up 15 years ago, indicating a healthy population off the coast. Over the years hardly any have been found there.

“We are hoping there is not a downward trend in their numbers.

“They are part of the North Sea's ecosystem and if they are disappearing then it could be the same with other life.

“Cuttlefish are very good at camouflage, but they are not too hard to find if they are near the surface.”

Seaquest hopes that families can join in the survey by recording any cuttlebones they find on the county's beaches.

Last year the group carried out a comprehensive survey of pipefish numbers.

Darren Gook, senior aquarist at Yarmouth's Sea Life Centre, welcomed the survey.

He said: “Cuttlefish are quite elusive with their camouflage and they jet away if you stumble upon them.

“It will be nice to get a baseline survey of their numbers.”

For more information on the cuttlefish survey or to send in any evidence, email norfolkseaquest@

yahoo.co.uk or visit www.norfolk

seaquest.co.uk

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