A guide to cuttlefish species found in Australian waters

Prior to 2015, our work focused on studying and understanding the life and trials of the northern Spencer Gulf population of Sepia apama, the giant Australian cuttlefish- central to the story of our documentary film. This species is one of at least six species of cuttlefish found in South Australian waters– and far less is known about the remaining other five, most of which inhabit deeper waters. While studying the other cuttlefish of South Australia, we compiled this chart, which lists all the cuttlefish species known to inhabit Australian waters. There are temperate species, tropical species and some constrained to very specific regions, like the waters around Lord Howe Island. We are not aware of any single resource which provides a photographic guide to the living animals or their cuttlebones, which is a task we will consider undertaking once our film is complete in 2016. There is much to learn about cuttlefish, and we hope to stimulate study and appreciation of these wonderful animals in any way we can.

Single giant Australian cuttlefish at Stony Point - Chris Carthew 2015

Giant Australian cuttlefish at Stony Point, South Australia – Chris Carthew 2015

Here is a table listing the various species of cuttlefish found around Australia along with some basic information. The data is aggregated from three sources: the Atlas of Living Australia, the Australian Museum and species-specific articles on Wikipedia. If you have images of any of these species from diving, snorkeling, beach-combing or scientific work, please let us know. We plan to revise and expand upon this resource as new information becomes available.

Species names link out to pages for each species at the Atlas of Living Australia.

Species Common name Max. mantle size (cm) Min depth (m) Max depth (m) Waters
Sepia apama Giant Australian cuttlefish 50 1 100 Sub-tropical/temperate
Sepia baxteri 7.4 Sub-tropical
Sepia bidhaia 5.7 (f) 3.7 (m) 200 304 Tropical
Sepia braggi Slender cuttlefish  8 (f) 4.9 (m)  30  86 Sub-tropical/temperate
Sepia brevimana Shortclub cuttlefish Tropical
Sepia chirotrema 20 120 210 All
Sepia cottoni 5.5 83 183 All
Sepia cultrata Knifebone cuttlefish 9  132  803 All
Sepia elliptica Ovalbone cuttlefish 7.2 Tropical
Sepia grahami Ken’s cuttlefish 8.2 (f) 6.6 (m) 2  84 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia hedleyi Hedley’s cuttlefish  10.8 (f) 8.3 (m)  47  1092 Sub-tropical/temperate
Sepia irvingi 10 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia koilados 6.8 (m) 5.5 (f) 182 203 Tropical
Sepia latimanus Broadclub cuttlefish 50 1 30 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia limata 4.2 (f) 3.5 (m) 17 183 Sub-tropical
Sepia mestus Reaper cuttlefish 12.4 (f) 7.7 (m) 0 22 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia mira 5.5 20 72 Tropical
Sepia novaehollandiae New Holland cuttlefish 7.7 Sub-tropical/temperate
Sepia opipara Magnificent cuttlefish  15  83  184 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia papuensis Papuan cuttlefish 11  10  155 Tropical/sub-tropical
Metasepia pfefferi Flambuoyant cuttlefish Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia pharaonis Pharaoh cuttlefish 42 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia plana 396 505 Tropical
Sepia plangon Mourning cuttlefish  10  3  9 All
Sepia reesi 4.5 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia rhoda 6.1 (m) 5.8 (f) 64 184 Tropical
Sepia rozella Rosecone cuttlefish 11.4  27  183 Sub-tropical
Sepia senta 8.3 (f) 6.2 (m) 256 426 Tropical
Sepia smithi Smith’s cuttlefish 8.4 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia sulcata Grooved cuttlefish 5.2 Tropical
Sepia tanybracheia 5.1 200 205 Tropical
Sepia vercoi 4.6 76 201 Tropical/sub-tropical
Sepia whitleyana Whitley’s cuttlefish  17.4  160 Tropical/sub-tropical

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Dan Monceaux is a South Australian documentary filmmaker and the director of Cuttlefish Country.

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