cephalopods text index | photo index
Phylum Mollusca > Class Cephalopoda > squids and cuttlefishes
Family Sepiidae
updated Oct 13
Where 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.

Cuttlefish inking
Chek Jawa, May 03

Cuttlebone washed ashore.
Chek Jawa, Mar 03

Cuttlefishes on Singapore shores

Family Sepiidae recorded for Singapore
from Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore.

  Cuttlefishes awaiting identification
Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.
  Smooth cuttlefish

  Family Sepiidae
  Sepia aculeata
Sepia brevimana
Sepia esculenta
Sepia latimanus
(Broadclub cuttlefish)
Sepia lycidas
Sepia pharaonis
Sepia recurvirostra
(Curvespine cuttlefish)

Sepiella inermis
(Glittering cuttlefish)

  • Cephbase a database-driven website on all living cephalopods: with species search, image and video database, reference database and researcher directory
  • 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.
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