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Common cuttlefish

Common cuttlefish

Not on Exhibit

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Sepia officinalis

  • Animal Type

    Octopuses & Kin

  • Diet

    crabs, shrimp and fishes

  • Size

    males to 24 inches (61 cm), females smaller

  • Relatives

    octopuses, squid and nautilus; Phylum: Mollusca; Class: Cephalopoda

  • Habitat

    Sandy Seafloor

  • Range

    eastern Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea

Natural History

Cuttlefish are armed to hunt. When a shrimp or fish is in range, the cuttlefish aims—and shoots out two tentacles to seize its prey. Like their octopus kin, cuttlefish hide from enemies with camouflage and clouds of ink.

Cuttlefish don't live in Monterey Bay; they're native to the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic. They lay their eggs in bunches, each grapelike egg encased in inky jelly. The Aquarium has raised several generations of cuttlefish from egg bunches.


Although human impact on the ocean is growing, so is the knowledge that we depend on healthy seas. Working together, people can discover solutions to pollution, overfishing, and other threats to the ocean.

Cool Facts

Without this cuttlefish, many great works of art and literature would not exist! The dark-brown ink of the common cuttlefish, called sepia, was once used extensively for writing and drawing. 

Cuttlefish can change their skin color and pattern almost instantly. They use their skin to communicate—flashing stripes and patches of color convey threats or courtship messages.

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