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Cuttlefish Anatomy

Cuttlefish are soft-bodied Molluscs with short, flattened bodies and a large head. Cuttlefish skin is soft and delicate, and slides easily back and forth over an oval mantle of muscle that is attached to the rigid, internal cuttlefish bone. It is covered with Chromatophores or pigment sacs which allow the cuttlefish to change colour for camouflage purposes, mating rituals and to show emotions.


Cuttlefish have eight sucker-lined tentacles that are attached to the head in a ring around the mouth. They also have skin flaps along each side which shield two retractable feeding tentacles that are longer than the rest and are flattened at the end.

anatomy sketchOn the underbelly, there is a forward opening cavity that contains the gills and openings for the gut, kidneys and sexual organs. There is a siphon just beneath the head which helps the cuttlefish to steer and swim. Cuttlefish have large eyes with a W-shaped lens and, a transparent cover and lid. The body is edged by a thin frill-like fin which circles horizontally around the body.

Cuttlefish usually grow to between 5 and 30 centimetres long, but the giant cuttlefish grow much bigger. Giant cuttlefish are only found in the waters off southern Australia and they produce cuttlefish bones up to 1 metre long. Cuttlefish are only usually seen in large numbers near the shore in winter when they gather on the shallow reefs to mate and spawn.

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