(Updated--additional verse and pics as of 9AM East Coast US time)
Blake Stacey sends me the latest news from PLoS, an article on "Complex Prey Handling by Dolphins". Very cool... except... the prey they are handling are cuttlefish! That's right, the full title is "Preparing the Perfect Cuttlefish Meal: Complex Prey Handling by Dolphins". A bit of a shock to the hearts, I must say. Imagine if I had sent this page to him!
It is a fascinating article, though; I recommend it to any students of zoology, marine biology, behavioral learning, or just anyone who likes really cool stories about cuttlefish being killed, beaten, maimed, and eaten. (It's ok, these cuttlefish had just finished mating, and were just scooting off to die quietly somewhere.)
For those who don't like reading journal articles, I have translated it into Cuttlefish:
A dolphin may wish
For a cuttlefish dish
In the waters with old Davy Jones;
See, they find cuttlefishes
Are truly delicious
Except for the cuttlefish bones.
They also may think
That the cuttlefish ink
Is unpleasant, or nasty, or mean;
We infer this because
In a Gulf in South Oz
They’ve developed a dolphin cuisine!
Many dolphin techniques
Are employed, as it seeks
To find breakfast, or supper, or lunch
They are clearly no fools—
They can even use tools—
Hunting solo, or else in a bunch.
Some behaviors are thought
To be modeled or taught,
While some may be coded genetically;
The picture is muddy,
So researchers study,
And gather their data frenetically.
These bottlenose feed
Where the cuttlefish breed—
Tens of thousands all gathered to mate;
After spawning, they’re weak,
So the bottlenose seek
Them (of course, out of hunger, not hate).
The process, as planned,
Takes place in the sand,
So from cover the cuttles are flushed—
A vertical pose
Puts the bottlenose nose
So one thrust, and the cuttle is crushed.
He is not just yet eaten—
No, first, he is beaten,
Till the ink-sac inside him is burst
Then he’s beaten some more,
And it’s clear what it’s for,
Until most of the ink is dispersed.
Then the succulent morsel
Is flipped on his dorsal
And scraped on the sand till he splits,
And the cuttlefish bone
Is released on its own,
And up to the surface it flits.
Without ink, bone, or soul,
They are gobbled up whole,
With no cuttlebone left to be chewed
And this far off the coast
There’s no Emily Post
So there’s no reason not to be rude!
And that’s how it looks
When these bottlenose cooks
Make “the Perfect Cuttlefish Meal”;
But they didn’t ask me—
From my vantage, you see,
Such a dinner lacks any appeal.
I’d invite me a mermaid
To a place just for her, made
Of corals and seashells and pearls
Just me and my cutie,
My undersea beauty,
And around us the ocean unfurls
All the sights of the ocean
Are no matching potion
For the magic that’s there in her eyes…
Yes, if it were my wish,
The best Cuttlefish dish?
A delectable Mermaid Surprise!