AMAZING CUTTLEFISH - Cephalopods with Natural Camouflage and Sepia InkHome

Cuttlefish Camouflage

Cuttlefish have the ability to change colour very rapidly, making them extremely good at natural camouflage. They can change colour in less than a second.

Cuttlefish also use colour to signal emotions such as anger, fear and sexual arousal.They will flush deep red when agitated and then change to a mottled sand colour as natural camouflage so they can disappear into the surroundings.


Embedded in the skin of a cuttlefish are numerous elastic pigment sacs called chromatophores, which are surrounded by circular muscles. When the muscles contract, these sacs are stretched out into flat discs of dense pigment and when the muscles relax, the sacs fold down into small dots of colour.

cuttlefish colour blending  cuttlefish hiding in the gravel

Chromatophores produce the orange to red, brown to black and yellow colours of the skin. Reflecting cells that provide the cuttlefish with blue and green colouration are called Iridophores and Leucophores form white spots.

Skin Texture

cuttlefish hiding in the sandCuttlefish can also change the texture of their skin for natural camouflage. By contracting certain muscles, the cuttlefish can sprout spiky-looking projections called papillae. They can use skin textural and colour changes to disguise themselves as a patch of swaying kelp, a cluster of coral or even a chunk of rock.

Sepia Ink

If natural camouflage fails, the cuttlefish shoots ink out at the pursurer. The sepia ink may be produced as a mucus-bound blob or as a large cloud. It is secreted from a sac near the anus and discharge through the siphon. Sepia ink ejection is usually followed by a rapid colour change to confuse the pursuer. Sepia ink, once widely used in printing, art and photography, was originally prepared from the 'sepia ink' of cuttlefish.

Web-site last revised (June 2006) Copyright