PORT PHILLIP BAY


Giant Australian Cuttlefish 

Sepia apama Gray, 1849

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Ten circumoral appendages, eight arms and two ventrolateral tentacles. Mantle cavity with three openings to exterior. Arms and clubs at the tips of the tentacles with numerous suckers, each armed with a horny, toothed rim. Tentacles contractile and retractile into pockets between arms III and IV. Mantle edge near mantle cartilages straight. Fin along the length of the body, not joined posteriorly. Dorsal border of mantle free (unfused) from head. Non-hectocotylised arm sucker arrangement tetraserial. Left ventral arm of males hectocotylised. Proximal end of hectocotylised arm with six to 10 rows of slightly reduced, equal sized suckers. Tentacle club with four or five suckers in transverse rows differing markedly in size - some median suckers greatly enlarged. Internal shell straight, laminate, calcified, chalky. Anterior striae of cuttlebone inverted U-shaped in smaller specimens, becoming straight in large specimens. In large specimens inner cone limbs of cuttlebone thickened into rough callus on inner margin of outer cone. Three flat, semicircular, flap-like papillae posterior to eyes.
Mantle length and cuttlebone length to 500 mm, total length to 1 m, weight to 10.5 kilograms

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Mollusca
Class:
Cephalopoda
Subclass:
Coleoidea
Order:
Sepiida
Family:
Sepiidae
Genus:
Sepia
Species:
apama

Other Names

  • Giant Cuttlefish

General Description

Large, robust cuttlefish (world's largest). Recognised by triple flaps of skin above each eye. Cuttlebone of larger animals without spine, instead possessing a wide shelf-like flange around the rear tip. Males possess wide banner-like webs off lower arm pair. Males can attain a total length of 1 m and a mantle length and cuttlebone length to 50 cm. Females generally smaller than males.

Biology

These giant cuttlefish are excellent at camouflage and can push up branched flaps of skin all over their bodies to help them stalk their prey while hiding from predators such as dolphins, seals, sharks and other large fishes. They are generally day active but individuals have been observed feeding at night. Buoyancy is maintained by the gas-filled cuttlebone. Females lay large numbers of large white eggs, with pointed tails, deep in crevices. Eggs take several months to hatch.

Habitat

Rocky reefs, kelp forests and seagrass meadows to a depth of 100 m.

Reefs

Seagrass meadows

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Octopuses and allies Cuttlefishes

Depth

Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

1 m

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

May bite if harassed or handled. Venom status unknown.

Commercial Species

Yes

Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

Identify

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Not listed

Author

article author Finn, J.K.

Dr. Julian Finn is a Senior Curator of marine invertebrates at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Norman, M.

Dr. Mark Norman is Head of Sciences at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Finn, J.K. & Norman, M., 2011, Giant Australian Cuttlefish, Sepia apama, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 23 Jul 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/4075

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