Portsmouth chosen to host huge cuttlefish street mural

Friday 28th July 2017

ATM painting the cuttlefish mural© Paul Gonella

UK-renowned street artist ATM is set to paint his first ever marine-themed portrait in Portsmouth, to mark The Wildlife Trusts’ National Marine Week

The UK’s extraordinary marine life is being celebrated with the unveiling of a colossal mural of a cuttlefish to mark the start of National Marine Week, which runs from Saturday July 29th to Sunday 13th August.

The outdoor painting by the artist ATM will decorate a Portsmouth City Museum building, creating a new landmark in the city, and adding to its rich street art offering. ATM is well known for his striking wildlife street art, particularly birds.

This is his first marine portrait, which shows a characterful cuttlefish; an arm wrapped around a drainpipe, on a wall donated for the artwork by Portsmouth City Council. The picture will take three days to paint, freehand, from a 2.5 m tall tower scaffold.

Many people don't know about the amazing sea life on our doorstep. This mural brings the secrets of the Solent's wildlife right into the heart of the city.

The cuttlefish is a secretive species that visits the Solent every year to breed. With eight arms around its mouth, two tentacles, and W-shaped eyes, it resembles a mysterious creature from an alien world.

Their bodies shimmer and pulse with beautifully-coloured striking patterns. Amazingly, they can see backwards, as well as forwards, have three hearts, and blue-green blood. Cuttlefish also provide a vital link in the food chain for many of our rarer species.

During the spring cuttlefish swim to shallower waters like those in the Solent to breed, often in fragile underwater meadows of sea grass. These important sea grass beds are also home to seahorses and many species of juvenile fish, and are the focus of local campaigns to secure better protection for marine habitats and species.

Tim Ferrero, marine specialist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: “It’s fantastic to be hosting this mural to launch National Marine Week right here in Portsmouth. Despite being a city with a rich seafaring heritage, many people don’t know about the amazing sea life on our doorstep. This mural brings the secrets of our Solent’s wildlife right into the heart of the city.”

Artist ATM said: “Cuttlefish are masters of disguise, changing colour and skin patterns. As an artist I find them fascinating, they’re like living palettes of colour, and show that the waters around our coast are teeming with life as extraordinary as any found in tropical seas.”

The start of National Marine Week will also be celebrated with Splash of Colour, a day of free marine-themed Wildlife Trust events at the Museum on Saturday 29th July, including family arts workshops, mud sifting for creatures and an indoor beach. Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust hopes the event will help inspire local people to learn more about the marine life in our local seas, and get involved in the Wildlife Trust’s upcoming Secrets of the Solent project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


About cuttlefish

  • The common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is a type of mollusc - a cephalopod, similar to octopus and squid.
  • In UK waters, they grow up to 30cm long, with 8 arms, 2 tentacles and a pair of fins running the length of the body. A unique internal shell called the cuttlebone, is porous and used to help control buoyancy.
  • Their diet includes small fish, crabs and shrimp, although they will prey on a wide variety of species.
  • They can change the colour and texture of their skin for camouflage, and can mimic the texture of sand, rock or seaweed, or pulse patterns and colours to confuse both potential predators and prey.
  • Cuttlefish are intelligent, deploying secret ‘weapons’ with the cunning of James Bond; squirting enemies in a cloud of black ink, before making their escape; and trapping prey with lightning fast tentacles, crunching the shells of crabs and shrimp in a parrot-like beak.
  • Though found all around the UK, cuttlefish are more common on southern and western coasts.


About National Marine Week

National Marine Week, running from 29th July to 13th August celebrates the UK's seas and marine wildlife. This year’s theme is The Sea and Me, exploring individual relationships with the sea, whether you live inland or on the coast. Spread across two weeks in order to take advantage of the tides, Wildlife Trusts are running a host of fantastic marine events. More at: www.wildlifetrusts.org


Tagged with: Hampshire, Living Seas, People and Nature