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)

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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

Reaper Cuttlefish - Sepia mestus

The Reaper Cuttlefish, Sepia mestus (Sepiidae), can be identified by its typically red color, a pair of black spots on the upper body, a yellow-orange eye socket and short arms. It has a distinctive pair of oval pads of spongy tissue on the mantle. This is suspected to act as adhesion pads, assisting the animal to hold their position in turbulent water characteristic of its shallow water habitat. 

The Reaper Cuttlefish can be found in waters off eastern Australia, with a range from Southern Queensland to southern NSW. 

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©Richard Ling (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) | Locality: The Docks, Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia (2010)

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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.


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Images: Tongjin and Nick Hobgood


Since I haven’t done many posts lately, I thought I’d make up for it with a pre-written informational poem about- what else?- flamboyant cuttlefish! Well, it’s more of an instructional guide on how to be a flamboyant cuttlefish… sorry if I get some parts wrong, there isn’t much information I could find via interwebs which led to a few educated guesses! And now for the poem itself.

How to Be a Flamboyant Cuttlfish (M. pfefferi)

Develop in translucent egg casings, slightly larger than a pea

Break through your confines and after this, you must flee.

Amble upon the sea floor, a unique trait of your kind

Small cuttlebones prevent floating, but of this you do not mind.

Speaking of size, a maximum three inch growth is to be known

Considering what you lack in magnitude you make up in throne.

Possess a maximum mantle, papillae, and hectocotylus (if male)

Flaunt your powerful tentacle clubs and useful cromatophores, which help your skin tell a tale.

Scour the seafloor for benthic creatures like tasty ichthyoids, stomatopods, and crustaceans.

Drift from Indonesia to Malaysia, yet the Philippines is your prime destination.

Keep cautious of predators with your notably developed camera eye 

Avoid falling prey to cetaceans, elasmobranches, and even cephalopods, oh my.

Deter predation with your psuedomorphs and highly toxic muscle tissue Expect Homo sapiens to be your cardinal issue.

Ignore the emperor shrimp hitching a ride on your dorsal side

Desiring the cease of commensalism does little to change the tides. 

Mate with the opposing sex, and whether you’re receiving spermatophores is under consideration

Hide from dominant males who have total intention of inflicting liaisons.

Complete the mating process and conquer unmerited rivals every now and then

Dying of senescence, you have continued the process all over again!

Photo by Hal Beral.

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.


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Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

Also simply known as the Giant Cuttlefish, the Australian giant cuttlefish is the worlds largest cuttlefish species, which is native to the southern coast of Australia, from Brisbane in Queensland to Shark Bay in Western Australia. They are typically seen among rocky reefs, seagrass beds, and sand and muddy seafloor to a depth to 100 m. True to their name, Australian giant cuttlefish can grow quite large reaching a total mantle length of 0.5 M a size only matched by the related S. latimanus


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Image: Yvonne

Not to brag or anything, but my Mom totally got me a huge pile of t-shirts to make a knitted rug like sepiidae made!

Mine are going to be shades of red, white and black.  I’m shooting for 2 for my kitchen.  I’ve always had such a problem with linen stitch, but maybe at the t-shirt yarn gauge I’ll have better luck than I’ve had at fingering weight… tension anyone?

Can’t wait.


Cuttlebone (Sepia sp.)
Pulau Semakau, 6th December 2008

This cuttlebone belonged to one of several large species of Cuttlefish known to occur in Singapore, which include:

Needle Cuttlefish (Sepia aculeata)

Broadclub Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)

Pharoah Cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis)

Paintpot Cuttlefish (Metasepia tullbergi)

…a small species of Metasepia cuttlefish which is distributed from southern Japan southwards to the Gulf of Thailand and encompasses the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, and East and South China Seas. Paintpot cuttlefish are a demersal species, and are typically found on sandy, muddy, and rocky habitats on the continental shelf. They are also typically associated with sea pens. 


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Image: George Berninger Jr.