Common cuttlefish

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Common cuttlefish
Washington DC Zoo - Sepia officinalis 2.jpg
Sepia officinalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Sepiida
Family: Sepiidae
Genus: Sepia
Subgenus: Sepia
Species: S. officinalis
Binomial name
Sepia officinalis
Linnaeus, 1758
  • Sepia rugosa Bowdich, 1822
  • Sepia vicellius Gray, 1849
  • Sepia zebrina Risso, 1854
  • Sepia filliouxi Lafont, 1869
  • ?Sepia fischeri Lafont, 1871
  • Sepia officinalis mediterranea Ninni, 1884
  • ?Sepia veranyi P. Fischer in Lagatu, 1888

The common cuttlefish or European common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is one of the largest and best-known cuttlefish species. It grows to 49 cm in mantle length (ML) and 4 kg in weight.[2] Animals from subtropical seas are smaller and rarely exceed 30 cm in ML.[3]

The common cuttlefish is native to at least the Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, and Baltic Sea, although subspecies have been proposed as far south as South Africa. It lives on sand and mud seabeds to a depth of around 200 m. As in most cuttlefish species, spawning occurs in shallow waters.[4]

Predators and prey[edit]

The common cuttlefish is one of the largest and best-known cuttlefish species.

Known predators of S. officinalis include large fish[5] (such as monkfish and swordfish, Xiphias gladius)[6][7] and whales.[5]

In the wild, S. officinalis is known to prey upon a wide variety of animals. These include: bony fish, copepods, crustaceans (including Astacus leptodactylus, Carcinus sp., Crangon sp., Daphnia sp., Gammarus sp., Mugil sp., Mysis sp., Penaeus sp., Praunus sp., Sphaeroma sp., Squilla sp.), decapod cephalopods, gastropods, lamellibranches, nemerteans, octopods, ostracods, polychaetes, and pteropods.[8]

A 2008 study on S. officinalis[9] revealed that cuttlefish embryos, if visually exposed to a certain species of prey (e.g. crabs), will hunt primarily for that prey in later life. S. officinalis usually prefer shrimp to crabs, but when the embryos were exposed to crabs and the embryos had hatched, the young cuttlefish switched preferences and proceeded to hunt the crabs more often than the shrimp.[10]

As seen when dead, the long prehensile tentacles being withdrawn from the pouches at the side of the head, in which they are carried during life when not actually in use. a, neck; b, lateral fin of the mantle; c, the eight shorter arms; d, the two long prehensile tentacles; e, the eyes


It is unknown where the type specimen of S. officinalis was collected, as the location is given simply as "Oceano". It is deposited in the Linnean Society of London.[11]

Sepia officinalis jurujubai Oliveira, 1940, originally described as a subspecies of the common cuttlefish, is a junior synonym of Sepioteuthis sepioidea.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NatureServe (2013). "Sepia officinalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Reid, A., P. Jereb, & C.F.E. Roper 2005. Family Sepiidae. In: P. Jereb & C.F.E. Roper, eds. Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species known to date. Volume 1. Chambered nautiluses and sepioids (Nautilidae, Sepiidae, Sepiolidae, Sepiadariidae, Idiosepiidae and Spirulidae). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 4, Vol. 1. Rome, FAO. pp. 57–152.
  3. ^ Roper C.F.E., M.J. Sweeney & C.E. Nauen 1984. Cephalopods of the world. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy. Vol. 3, p. 277.
  4. ^ Norman, M.D. 2000. Cephalopods: A World Guide. ConchBooks.
  5. ^ a b Le-Mao, P. 1985. Place de la seiche Sepia officinalis (mollusque, Cephalopoda) dans les chaines alimentaires du golfe Normano-Breton. Cah. Biol. Mar. 26(3): 331-340.
  6. ^ Hernández-Garcia, V. (1995). "The diet of the swordfish Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758, in the central east Atlantic, with emphasis on the role of cephalopods" (PDF). Fish. Bull. 93 (2): 403–411. 
  7. ^ Royer, J., M.B. Santos, S.K. Cho, G. Stowasser, G.J. Pierce, H.I. Daly & J.-P. Robin. 1998. Cephalopod consumption by fish in English Channel and Scottish waters. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea: The impact of Cephalopods in the Food Chain and Their Interaction with the Environment, CM/M: 23.
  8. ^ Boletzky S.v. & R.T. Hanlon. 1983. A Review of the Laboratory Maintenance, Rearing and Culture of Cephalopod Molluscs. Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria: Proceedings of the Workshop on the Biology and Resource Potential of Cephalopods, Melbourne, Australia, 9–13 March 1981, Roper, Clyde F.E., C.C. Lu &F.G. Hochberg, ed. 44: 147-187.
  9. ^ Anne-Sophie Darmaillacq, Clemence Lesimple, and Ludovic Dickel. 2008. Embryonic visual learning in the cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis. Animal Behaviour 76: 131–134
  10. ^ Walker, M. 2008. Cuttlefish spot target prey early. BBC News, June 5, 2008.
  11. ^ Current Classification of Recent Cephalopoda
  12. ^ Adam, W. & W.J. Rees. 1966. A Review of the Cephalopod Family Sepiidae. John Murray Expedition 1933-34, Scientific Reports 11(1): 1-165, 46 plates.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fluckiger, M.; Jackson, G. D.; Nichols, P.; Virtue, P.; Daw, A.; Wotherspoon, S. (2008). "An experimental study of the effect of diet on the fatty acid profiles of the European Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis )". Mar. Biol. 154 (2): 363–372. doi:10.1007/s00227-008-0932-0. 
  • Hanlon, R. T.; Messenger, J. B. (1988). "Adaptive Coloration in Young Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis L.): The Morphology and Development of Body Patterns and Their Relation to Behaviour". Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 320 (1200): 437–487. doi:10.1098/rstb.1988.0087. JSTOR 2396667. 

External links[edit]