Common Cuttlefish Reproduction

Categorized as a shallow water cephalopod, the Common Cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis (Sepiidae), is generally found in the eastern North Atlantic, throughout the English Channel, and south into the Mediterranean Sea, though populations have also been recorded along the west coast of Africa, and as far south as South Africa.

In the spring and summer, male and females migrate to shallow, warmer waters to spawn. They exhibit elaborate courtships, wherein males attract females through spectacular displays of colored bands passing rapidly along their bodies. Males then hold their arms stiffly in a basket formation to show their virility. Similarly, females display a uniform gray color when ready to mate. 

Mating in Sepia officinalis involves internal fertilization, so, eventually the male will grasp a female and mate with her. Using a modified arm, known as the hectocotylus, the male passes spermatophores to the female.

After mating, fertilized eggs are stored in the oviduct of the female until they are ready to be deposited. The female deposits eggs one by one in clusters on seaweeds, shells, or even debris. She blackens them for camouflage with the same ink that cuttlefish use to cast a smoke screen against large predators. The male often remains at her side for some time, but he has no romantic intentions. He is merely trying to prevent her from mating with another male. Mate guarding, in which males aggressively fight over and guard their females, is common.

After spawning both male and females die.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Joris van Alphen | Locality: Oosterschelde, Zeeland, Netherlands (2010)

Metasepia pfefferi juvenile | ©Benjamin Naden   (Lembeh, Indonesia)

Metasepia pfefferi (Sepiidae) is a species of cuttlefish native to Tropical Indo-Pacific, especially along the coast of northern Australia, western Australia, and across to the southern edge of New Guinea.

Known as Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefishMetasepia pfefferi exhibits overlaying patterns of white and yellow on dark brown base color. Its arms are purple-pink.

Metasepia pfefferi is one of only three species of cephalopods found to be toxic. The toxin that M. pfefferi contains is shown to have similar lethal effects as that of the blue-ringed octopus, and it may possibly be able to quickly kill an adult human.



Pharaoh Cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis)

…a large species of cuttlefish that is native to  western Indian Ocean, including the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and much of the Pacific as well. Like other cuttlefish S. pharonis is active at night, hunting at shallower depths for small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. 


Animalia-Mollusca-Cephalopoda-Sepiida-Sepiidae-Sepia-S. pharonis

Images: Silke Baron and Stickpen


Broadclub Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)

…a species of cuttlefish that is distributed from the Andaman Sea, east to Fiji, and south to northern Australia. Broadclub cuttlefish are the second largest species of cuttlefish, they are dwarfed only by Sepia apama. Like other cuttlefish S. latimanus is capable of changing both its body color and texture. It uses this ability in courtship and to catch prey. S. latimanus feeds mainly on shrimp of the genus Palaemon and will “mesmerize” its prey with rhythmic bands of color.


Animalia-Mollusca-Cephalopoda-Sepiida-Sepiidae-Sepia-(Sepia)-S. latimanus

Images: Tongjin and Nick Hobgood

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Reaper Cuttlefish (Sepia mestus)

….is a species of cuttlefish endemic to the warm southwestern Pacific ocean, they are more commonly found off of the reefs if Australia. Like several other cuttlefish species the reaper cuttlefish is sexually dimorphic as females grow significantly larger than their male counterparts. Like most cuttlefish species they are predators and will feed on arthropods, other mollusks and small invertebrates that are caught with two tentacles that are shot out at the prey item.



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