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8 Types of Cuttlefish (Facts, Pictures)

Despite what you might think from the name, a cuttlefish is actually a cephalopod, not a fish. They are closely related to octopuses and squids. Cephalopods like cuttlefish are invertebrates, meaning they do not have backbones. In the following article we’re going to learn about 8 types of cuttlefish found in the oceans of the world.

8 Types of Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish are also known for being extremely intelligent creatures. They are also often referred to as the chameleons of the sea because of their ability to change colors. They use this ability to camouflage themselves to hide from predators and to attract mates.

One main characteristic of the cuttlefish is the cuttlebone. This long internal shell can be filled with gas or water to control the buoyancy of the cuttlefish. This article details the eight most common types of cuttlefish in the world.

1. Common Cuttlefish

Common cuttlefish underwater
Common cuttlefish underwater | image by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Sepia officinalis

The Common Cuttlefish has eight arms and two tentacles. This close relative of the octopus uses clouds of ink to hide from predators. It also uses pigmented skin cells known as chromatophores to change colors almost instantaneously.

The common cuttlefish uses this color-changing ability to hide from predators, hide from prey, during mating rituals, and when fighting rival cuttlefish. They can be found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

The common cuttlefish lays eggs that are shaped like grapes. The female lays these eggs in shallow water and covers them in an inky jelly while they gestate for one to two months.

2. Pharoah Cuttlefish

Pharoah cuttlefish mating
Pharoah cuttlefish mating

Scientific Name: Sepia pharaonis

This Pharoah Cuttlefish is native to the Western Indian Ocean. This species is large, growing up to 16.5 inches in length and weighing up to 11 pounds. Their diet consists of mollusks, fish, and other sea creatures.

During mating, the males compete against each other for the right to mate with a female. While it can lead to physical combat, the battle is often decided by the two males changing color and moving their tentacles in a threatening manner until one of them swims away.

3. Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Flamboyant cuttlefish 
Flamboyant cuttlefish  | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Metasepia pfefferi

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish is small, measuring between 2.4 and 3.1 inches in length. This species of cuttlefish is native to the oceans around Indonesia, Eastern Papua New Guinea, northern Australia, and the East Indian Ocean. They spend much of their time on the sea floor, using their fins and arms to move around.

This cuttlefish gets its name from the bold and bright colors it exhibits when it feels threatened. While many cuttlefish use ink to distract predators while it swims away, the Flamboyant Cuttlefish pulses its fins and displays various colors to intimidate the predator. This cuttlefish is also highly poisonous.

4. Dwarf Cuttlefish

Dwarf cuttlefish 
Dwarf cuttlefish  | image by Rickard Zerpe via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Sepia bandensis

The Dwarf Cuttlefish is an invertebrate cephalopod found in the coral reefs in the oceans around Indonesia, The Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Like their flamboyant relatives, the Dwarf Cuttlefish can display an impressive array of colors. The Dwarf Cuttlefish can change colors so well that it almost looks like an LED light display at times.

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They use this ability to attract a mate or to distract potential predators. One unique aspect of the Dwarf Cuttlefish is the tendency for the smaller males to imitate the colors of the females to get past the larger male competition. Studies show that females are more likely to mate with males who use this tactic.

5. Australian Giant Cuttlefish

Australian giant cuttlefish underwater
Australian giant cuttlefish underwater

Scientific Name: Sepia apama

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish is the largest species of cuttlefish, measuring over three feet in length and up to 35 pounds. This species gathers in large numbers in the oceans of southern Australia from May to June to mate.

Soon after mating season, the bodies of Australian Giant Cuttlefish start to wash up on the shore. Mating is the last thing these creatures do in their short 12 to 18-month lives.

6. Broadclub Cuttlefish

Broadclub cuttlefish
Broadclub cuttlefish | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Sepia latimanus

The Broadclub Cuttlefish is the second largest cuttlefish next to the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. This species of cuttlefish is exceptionally good at camouflage, so it is difficult for scientists to find and study them. Like other cuttlefish, the Broadclub Cuttlefish has three hearts.

Two of the hearts are used to pump blood to the gills, and the third heart pumps blood through the cuttlefish’s body. The Broadclub Cuttlefish spends most of its life alone, only gathering with other cuttlefish during the mating season.

7. Southern Cuttlefish

Scientific Name: Sepia australis

The Southern Cuttlefish is native to the eastern South Atlantic Ocean and the Western Indian Ocean. This cuttlefish species is purplish-brown in color with pale fins.

The fins have a band around the base that is pinkish-orange in color. These small cuttlefish only grow up to 3.3 inches long, not including the tentacles, and weigh up to 3 ounces.

8. Reaper Cuttlefish

Reaper cuttlefish 
Reaper cuttlefish  | image by John Turnbull via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Sepia mestus

The Reaper Cuttlefish, also known as the Red Cuttlefish, is found in the southwestern Pacific Ocean near Australia. This cuttlefish is red in color, and the females are significantly bigger than the males. Females can grow up to 4.8 inches, while males do not grow bigger than around 3 inches, not including the tentacles.

Like other cuttlefish, the Reaper Cuttlefish can change colors to camouflage, intimidate predators, and attract mates. This species of cuttlefish can also burrow into the sand to hide from predators.

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