Common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis

Identity card

Common cuttlefish

Scientific name:
Sepia officinalis
Year of description:
Linnaeus, 1758
IUCN Status:
Least Concern

Not Evaluated


East Atlantic, from the mouth of the Baltic and south of Norway to the north-west coast of Africa.


From the surface down to a depth of 200 m, on loose sand or gravel substrates.


Between 15 and 30 cm. Maximum size: 45 cm, not including tentacles.


Fish, molluscs and crustaceans.

Common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis

The black pointed eggs form clusters. As soon as they hatch, cuttlefish are able to capture prey .


And they already have a full palette of colours.

Cuttlefish are usually found in isolation. They gather in shallow waters, close to the shore, during courtship, where several males can be seen courting the same female, or waiting their turn.

Did you know?

If the feeding and temperature conditions are the most favourable, cuttlefish can reach sexual maturity when they are one year old. Adults die after the breeding season.

Where is the animal to be found?

It can be found from the surface down to a depth of about 200 m, living on soft sandy or gravel seabeds, in grass beds or among large algae. It often buries itself partially in the sediment.

How can it be recognised?

  • Cuttlefish belong to the cephalopod family and have a distinctive tapered body. It is covered by a mantle that hides the calcareous inner shell, which is called the cuttlebone.
  • This animal adapts the colouring and texture of its skin to the situations it is confronted with. If it wants to go unnoticed, it blends into the environment. On the contrary, to attract attention, it becomes highly conspicuous.
  • It has coloured cells, called chromatophores, which can spread out over the surface: dark colour, or retract: light colour, almost instantaneously. The appearance of its skin may also change, becoming smooth or bristling with soft growths.
  • The body is mottled white and brown on the back and lighter on the abdomen. The cuttlefish is a cephalopod, which means that it has arms on its head.
  • The eye of the cuttlefish is large; the pupil is W-shaped.
  • Males can be distinguished from females by the stripes on the most lateral tentacles and on the front part of the mantle.

What is distinctive about it?

  • During the day, cuttlefish stay buried in the sand or hidden in rocky crevices. It becomes active at night to hunt. Its prey are fish, molluscs and crustaceans (fry, shrimps, crabs, gastropods and other cephalopods).
  • Juveniles are not afraid to attack animals that are larger than they are.
  • The predators of cuttlefish are large fish ... and other cuttlefish.
  • Egg laying is characterised by black eggs with a pointed end, assembled in clusters. When they reach maturity, they lose their black colouring and young cuttlefish measuring approximately 12 to 15 mm can be identified.
  • As soon as they hatch, they are able to capture prey and already have a full palette of colours.
  • Young cuttlefish grow particularly quickly. Cuttlefish born in early June attain 15 cm by the end of August.
Common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis

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