Common Cuttlefish

Common Cuttlefish ©Alex Mustard/2020VISION

Common cuttlefish

Scientific name: Sepia officinalis
The largest cuttlefish found in UK seas, the common cuttlefish is an active predator - feasting on crabs, fish and even small cuttlefish.

Species information


Length: up to 45cm Average Lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Cuttlefish are relatives of squid and octopuses - a group of molluscs known as cephalopods. The common cuttlefish is the largest cuttlefish found in UK seas and an active predator. It lives in water up to 200 metres deep but comes into shallow water to breed in spring. Look out for clusters of rubbery black eggs attached to seaweed and seagrass between April and July. The eggs are dyed black with cuttlefish ink and are sometimes called "sea grapes". Cuttlefish normally live for 2 years and die after they have bred. When cuttlefish die, the large, chalky internal shell, known as cuttlebones, often wash up on the beach.

How to identify

Cuttlefish are a chunky squid-like creature with a well-developed head, large eyes and mouths with beak-like jaws. They have a fin that runs around their body, eight 'arms' with suckers plus two tentacles around the mouth. Cuttlefish are extremely variable in colour, but are usually blackish-brown, mottled or striped. The cuttlebones found washed ashore are white, chalky and oval-shaped with thin harder 'wings' at one end.


Found around all coasts of the UK, more common on south and west coasts.

Did you know?

Cuttlefish can quickly change colour and texture to merge into their background, distract predators or attract mates. They can easily mimic different types of seabed and will sometimes even sink into a sandy seabed to hide from predators, leaving only their eyes exposed. During spring and summer, males engage in spectacular displays to attract females, passing pulses of colour rapidly along their bodies.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or take a look at our Action pages.