seen? These rotund and chubby animals are seasonally common
on many of our shores, usually near seagrass meadows.
What are cuttlefish? Cuttlefish
are not fish! They are molluscs (Phylum
Mollusca) like snails, slugs and clams; and cephalopods
(Class Cephalopoda) which include octopuses.
They belong to the Order Sepiida. The family has more than 100 species
many of which are only identified from the internal cuttlebones.
Features: 5-10cm, but species
found in deeper waters can grow to 40cm and more. Members of this
family have oval-shaped or rounded bodies. The fins are about the
same width throughout and edge the entire sides of the body. Cuttlefishes
can change not only the patterns on their bodies, but also the texture!
The internal shell (called the cuttlebone) is thick, chalky and porous.
The cuttlebone contains gases that help the animal control its bouyancy.
Disappearing Ink: Like other cephalopods,
the cuttlefish can squirt ink that distracts predators and clouds
up the water. More about this in the fact sheet on cephalopods.
Human uses: Cuttlefishes are important
fishery items in many parts of the world. Cuttlebones are marketted
in the caged bird trade to provide calcium to these birds. In the
past, cuttlefish ink, called 'sepia', was used for writing and painting.
Chek Jawa, May 03
Cuttlebone washed ashore.
Chek Jawa, Mar 03
on Singapore shores
Sepiidae recorded for Singapore
Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist
of The Molluscs of Singapore.
Species are difficult to positively identify without
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience
Cephalopod Page by Dr James B Wood on the Dalhousie University
and the University of Texas Medical Branch website: everything
you could possibly want to know about cephalopods. Lots of info,
photos, articles and links to cephalopods. Lots of fabulous photos,
a delightful and exhaustive FAQ, and lots of cool articles for
the laymen, as well as lesson plans.
- Tan Siong
Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary
Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles
Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
- Norman, Mark
and Helmut Debelius, 2000. Cephalopods:
A World Guide.
ConchBooks, Germany. 319 pp
- Norman, Mark
and Amanda Reid. 2000. A
Guide to Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopuses of Australasia
The Gould League of Australia. 96pp.