Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    Up to 11 cm in mantle length.

Sepia papuensis is one of the few species in the Australasian region in which the pattern, texture and behaviour has been studied in detail. Like other cuttlefishes, it is capable of a variety of colour and pattern changes, often producing mottled patterns. It possesses a pair of characteristic dark ‘eye spots’ on the posterior end of the mantle.


Sepia papuensis has small papillae covering the surface of the head and numerous short flaps scattered over the body, head and arms. Some of the arms possess wide membranes on either side of the suckers.
The cuttlebone is oval and widest at the anterior end which is bluntly rounded. Dorsal surface with three longitudinal ribs separated by two grooves, and ventral surface with distinct median groove. It possesses a straight spine with ventral keel.


Sepia papuensis has been found in muddy, sandy or silt substrates at depths between 10 and 155 metres.


Found throughout the Indo-West Pacific; Philippine Islands, Indonesia, Bali, Arafura and Coral Seas, northern Australia from around Freemantle in Western Australia to southern NSW including the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Papuan Cuttlefish appears to be night-active and has been observed foraging in beds of seagrass and seaweed. Various behavioural studies have demonstrated this species to have a wide range of colour and texture patterns to imitate various substrates. The presence of papillae and flaps over the animal assists in many textural changes. Small individuals have been observed to flatten arms to mimic the seaweed species Halimeda.

Economic impacts

The Papuan Cuttlefish is harvested as bycatch in trawl fisheries throughout its range.


  • Jereb, P., & C.F.E Roper (eds) (2005) Cephalopods of the World: Chambered Nautiluses and Sepioids, Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Catalogue for Fishery Purposes, Rome, No. 4, Vol. 1
  • Lu, C.C (1998) A Synopsis of Sepiidae in Australian waters (Cephalopoda: Sepiodiea). In: Voss, N.A., Vecchione, M., Toll, R.B. & Sweeney, M.J (Eds) Systematics and Biogeography of Cephalopods. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, Vol. 586, 159-190.
  • Norman, M., (2000) Cephalopods- A World Guide, ConchBooks, Germany (Hackenheim)
  • Norman, M & A. Reid., (2000) A Guide to Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopuses of Australasia, CSIRO Publishing, Victoria (Collingwood)