Alex Mustard - Sex & Violence


The onset of spring in temperate regions sets all types of pulses racing. As the seas warm up along the south coast of England, cuttlefish head into shallow water to spawn at a few choice locations. In our cold waters, these cuttlefish take longer to reach maturity and grow much larger than the same species does further south in its range. The two large males pictured here, displaying to each other (in the presence of a smaller female, on the right), were 40-50cm in length. Like many molluscs, mating and fertilisation do not happen at the same time. The female stores the male’s sperm sac, only fertilising each eggs as she lays it in the seaweeds. As a result the males guard the females throughout the lengthy egg laying, displaying and occasionally fighting with rival males.

I took this photo for the British nature conservation photography project 2020VISION. The photography phase of this project is now complete, and the open air exhibition is touring the UK. Photographers from the project are presenting the VISION multimedia show at selected venues around the country and it is well worth checking out.

Location: Devon, England

Tags: Alex Mustard, British Isles, competition, cuttlefish, england, reproduction, Sepia officinalis, underwater, united kingdom

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