Sepia officinalis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Sepia officinalis
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name/s:
English Common Cuttlefish
French Casseron, Chakod, Chibia, Chubei, Margade, Seiche, Seiche commune, Supia
Spanish Aluda, Choco, Coca, Jibia, Jibión, Luda, Rellena, Relleno, Sepia común, Sipia, Sipionet
Sepia filliouxi Lafont, 1869
Sepia mediterranea Ninni, 1884

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2009-03-15
Assessor/s: Barratt, I. & Allcock, L.
Reviewer/s: Reid, A., Rogers, Alex & Bohm, M.
Contributor/s: Robin, J.-P., Herdson, R. & Duncan, C.
Sepia officinalis has been assessed as Least Concern as although it is the focus of large-scale commercial fisheries, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea and off the west coast of Africa and may be close to being overexploited in some regions (e.g. the Mediterranean Sea), it has a wide geographic range and is thus likely to not be threatened. Furthermore, FAO statistics indicate a constant yield of approximately 15,000 tonnes per annum suggesting no overall decline in stocks. We therefore consider this species to be of Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species has a wide geographic distribution (Reid et al. 2005). It occurs in the northeast and east Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea extending from the Shetland Islands and Norway in the north, through the Mediterranean Sea to northwest Africa (i.e. to Senegal) in the south (Reid et al. 2005). It is not present in the Baltic Sea (Reid et al. 2005).
Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Ireland; Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Lebanon; Libya; Mauritania; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal (Madeira, Portugal (mainland)); Senegal; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Canary Is., Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Sweden; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland); Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – northeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Although estimates of the total population size do not exist, stock assessments of the exploited English Channel stock have been made (Royer et al. 2006). In spite of some growth overfishing, there was no indication that the species was at risk. Some assumptions of this paper were not met, so the results should be considered with care, but since 2006 cuttlefish landings from the English Channel have remained high suggesting they are being exploited at sustainable levels.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The common cuttlefish is a large species and can attain a maximum mantle length of 490 mm and body weight of 2 kg in temperate waters, and 300 mm and 2 kg in subtropical regions (Reid et al. 2005). It inhabits sandy or muddy substrates and can tolerate brackish waters; younger individuals tolerate lower salinities and more environmental instability than adults (Reid et al. 2005). Both adults and young bury in the sand during the day (Reid et al. 2005). It ambushes prey from its hiding place in the sand, feeding on a wide variety of prey including crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes, small demersal fish as well as other cuttlefish (cannibalism is common when other prey abundances are low) (Reid et al. 2005). They are preyed upon by sharks, demersal fishes and other cephalopods (Reid et al. 2005). Growth rates are rapid leading to a life span of one to two years (Reid et al. 2005). During autumn and winter individuals migrate to deeper water (approximately 100m); returning to shallow water in spring and summer (Reid et al. 2005). In the Mediterranean large males return to shallow waters ahead of females with females and smaller individuals joining them throughout the spring and summer (Reid et al. 2005). Males demonstrate courtship behaviour and will guard females from rival males (Reid et al. 2005). Spawning occurs in shallow, inshore waters in April to July in the western Mediterranean and January to April off Senegal (Reid et al. 2005). Males have on average 1,400 spermatophores, and females can have between 150 and 4,000 eggs (8 to 10mm in diameter) depending on their body size (Reid et al. 2005). The eggs are attached to a range of substrates, including seaweed and shells, and are darkened with ink (Reid et al. 2005). The duration of embryonic development is temperature dependent and ranges from 30 to 90 days (Reid et al. 2005). Those young that hatch in spring usually spawn in the autumn of the following year; those that hatch in autumn usually spawn in the spring of their second year (Reid et al. 2005). Young are restricted to shallow water until their cuttlebones are fully formed (Reid et al. 2005). Due to post spawning mortality in females there is sometimes a bias in adult males (Reid et al. 2005). This species has been raised successfully in aquaculture (Reid et al. 2005).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ocean acidification caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is potentially a threat to all cuttlefish. Studies have shown that under high pCO2 concentrations, cuttlefishes actually lay down a denser cuttlebone which is likely to negatively affect buoyancy regulation (Gutowska et al. 2010). This species is a commercially important fisheries species in the Mediterranean Sea and off the west coast of Africa (Reid et al. 2005). It is intensively fished in the Mediterranean Sea and may be close to its sustainable limit (Reid et al. 2005). Females may also be used as lures to traps during the spawning season (Reid et al. 2005). It is also caught as bycatch (Reid et al. 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No conservation measures are currently needed for this species and none are in place. Further research is recommended regarding the population trends, distribution, life history traits and threats impacting this species.
Citation: Barratt, I. & Allcock, L. 2012. Sepia officinalis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please fill in the feedback form so that we can correct or extend the information provided