Cuttlefish or cuttles are marine molluscs of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopuses, and nautiluses. Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell, the cuttlebone, which is used for control of buoyancy.
Cuttlefish have large, W-shaped pupils, eight arms, and two tentacles furnished with denticulated suckers, with which they secure their prey. They generally range in size from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in), with the largest species, Sepia apama, reaching 50 cm (20 in) in mantle length and over 10.5 kg (23 lb) in mass.
Cuttlefish eat small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopus, worms, and other cuttlefish. Their predators include dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds, and other cuttlefish. The typical life expectancy of a cuttlefish is about 1–2 years. Studies are said to indicate cuttlefish to be among the most intelligent invertebrates. Cuttlefish also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates.
The "cuttle" in cuttlefish comes from the Old English name for the species, cudele, which may be cognate with the Old Norse koddi (cushion) and the Middle Low German Kudel (rag). The Greco-Roman world valued the cuttlefish as a source of the unique brown pigment the creature releases from its siphon when it is alarmed. The word for it in both Greek and Latin, sepia, now refers to the reddish-brown color sepia in English.
The family Sepiidae, which contains all cuttlefish, inhabits tropical and temperate ocean waters. They are mostly shallow-water animals, although they are known to go to depths of about 600 m (2,000 ft). They have an unusual biogeographic pattern; they are present along the coasts of East and South Asia, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean, as well as all coasts of Africa and Australia, but are totally absent from the Americas. By the time the family evolved, ostensibly in the Old World, the North Atlantic possibly had become too cold and deep for these warm-water species to cross. The common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), is found in the Mediterranean, North and Baltic seas, although populations may occur as far south as South Africa. They are found in sublittoral depths, between the low tide line and the edge of the continental shelf, to about 180 m (600 ft). The cuttlefish is listed under the Red List category of "least concern" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means that while some over-exploitation of the marine animal has occurred in some regions due to large-scale commercial fishing, their wide geographic range prevents them from being too threatened. Ocean acidification, however, caused largely by higher levels of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, is cited as a potential threat.