So what do you call a group of cuttlefish?

Octopuses are generally loners.

Squids often form schools.

But cuttlefish (or seacuttles if you will)…they outright just don’t get along with one another. In the video below two Giant Australian Cuttlefish males that are bit cranky fight over a female. They are both flashing the characteristic Zebra “Don’t F**K With Me” pattern.  Make sure you watch after 2 minutes when they really throw down.

So cuttlefish really only come together to fight and sex each other up. But a group of scientists recently have reported that in at least one species of cuttlefish schooling occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe broadclub cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) occurs all over coral reefs across the Indo-Pacific oceans.  In August of 2013 on a reef slope of the coast of Okinawa, Yasumuro and colleagues observed groups of 2-9 members comprised of individuals of similar body sizes.  The groups gently and continuously changed in their shapes between clusters and lines.  The cuttlefish synchronized their movements, equally space themselves, and oriented in a similar direction. In other words, they were schooling.  In larger schools, approximately half the cuttlefish would look in an opposite direction.  They were sort of hipster squid looking in the opposite direction before it was cool. Interestingly, bigger cuttlefish were followed by smaller cuttlefish.  Yet overall most of the cuttlefish were small to moderate sizes.  Larger and potentially crotchety adults never schooled.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.33.35 PMWhy the schooling?  Protection?  The schools all exhibited hunting behaviors.  Schools were either pursuing prey with rapid swimming, first and second arm pairs raised or extended, and finally tentacles ejected form the tips of arms to strike prey.  The schools also lured with individuals swimming with the first arm pair raised and swaying left to right to attract prey while simultaneously darkening the second arm pair tips while waggling the third arm pairs.  Yes its a complicated dance.  The schools may serve as hunting parties that can find and capture food more easily likes squishy, aquatic lions on the savannah.

So now that we know cuttlefish school, we need a name for the collective unit of cuttlefish.  I personally have always favored a squadron of squid over a school of squid.  Post your creative names in the comments below.

Yasumuro, H., Nakatsuru, S., & Ikeda, Y. (2015). Cuttlefish can school in the field Marine Biology, 162 (4), 763-771 DOI: 10.1007/s00227-015-2622-z

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

21 Replies to “So what do you call a group of cuttlefish?”

  1. I quite like the sound of a Class of Cuttles. Ties in nicely with school, while also hinting at their general all round sophistication and classiness.

  2. I think a group of cuttlefish should be called a “snuggle,” like “Hey, that’s a huge snuggle of cuttlefish.”

  3. “Class” does sound calssy, but I’ll second the wonderfully peculiar “hypnosis of cuttlefish”.

  4. Bottom to topside,
    I have snuggle struggle of cuttles surrounding me.
    Tell my wife I loved her.

  5. I’d call a group of cuttlefish a “humanity” of cuttlefish along the lines of a “murder” of crows or a mob of kangaroos.

    Not that it makes any sense, but clearly their behavior lends itself to easy anthropomorphism soooo.

Comments are closed.