Saturday 25 May
Common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Common cuttlefish fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Common cuttlefish description
The cephalopods (meaning 'head-footed'), a group of molluscs containing the octopuses, squid and cuttlefish, are probably the most intelligent of all invertebrates. They have well-developed heads, with large eyes and mouths that feature beak-like jaws (3). The body of the common cuttlefish is flattened and broad, and is therefore oval in cross-section (2). A fin runs around the body from behind the head (2). Encircling the mouth there are eight 'arms' with suckers, which are used to manipulate prey, there are also two tentacles with flattened paddle-like tips, which can be rapidly extended and are used to catch prey (4). This species has excellent camouflage; it is able to change its colour to match its surroundings (2). Colour is therefore extremely variable, but is typically blackish-brown, mottled or striped, usually with paler underparts (2). Cuttlefish have an internal shell known as a cuttlebone, which is filled with gas and aids buoyancy; these shells are found washed ashore, and are often given to pet birds as a source of calcium and other minerals.
- Casseron, Chakod, Chibia, Chubei, Margade, Seiche, Seiche commune, Supia.
- Aluda, Choco, Coca, Jibia, Jibión, Luda, Rellena, Relleno, Sepia común, Sipia, Sipionet.
- Length: up to 45 cm (2)
Common cuttlefish biology
Cuttlefish swim using the fin that passes around the body. They can also rapidly expel water and move quickly by 'jet-propulsion' (4). Like all cephalopods, the common cuttlefish is an active predator, feeding on molluscs, young fish, and crabs. Other species of cuttlefish may also be taken, and cannibalism has been reported (2). When threatened, this species releases ink (known as sepia) into the water to produce a protective 'cloud' which confuses predators and allows the cuttlefish to escape (4).
During spring and summer, males and females migrate to warmer water in order to spawn (2). Males often engage in spectacular displays to attract a female, in which bands of colour pass rapidly along the body; fighting over females is common (4). The eggs are attached to objects on the sea floor such as shells and seaweeds (2); after spawning, both the males and females die (4). Young cuttlefish reach maturity at 14 to 18 months of age, and the average life span is 1 to 2 years (2).Top
Common cuttlefish range
In Britain, this cuttlefish is found around southern and western coasts. Elsewhere, the species is found in the eastern Atlantic from the Baltic Sea to South Africa, and also in the Mediterranean (2).Top
Common cuttlefish habitatTop
Common cuttlefish status
The common cuttlefish is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Common cuttlefish threatsTop
Common cuttlefish conservation
No conservation action has been targeted at this common species.Top
Find out more
For more on this species see the Marine Life Information Network species account, available from:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- In the fishing industry, the part of the catch made up of non-target species.
- A marine zone between the littoral zone (the shallow zone where light reaches the bed, subject to submersion and exposure by tides) and depths of around 200m.
IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
Wilson, E. (1999) Sepia officinalis. Common cuttlefish. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. (November, 2002)
- Buczacki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
Common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis). The living world of molluscs (January, 2003)
- IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.