Common Cuttlefish - Sepia Officinalis
Latin: Sepia Officinalis
English: Common Cuttlefish, European Common Cuttlefish
German: Der Gewöhnliche Tintenfisch
French: La Seiche Commune
Italian: La Seppia Comune
Spanish: La Sepia Común
About: Common Cuttlefish, also known as European Common Cuttlefish, is cuttlefish that belongs to the Sepiidae family. It is one of the largest cuttlefish species and certainly one of the tastiest.
Body is oval, gently flattened with rounded posterior. Around the mantle there is a narrow fin used for fine positioning and slow swimming. When in danger, it uses a jet of water for fast withdrawal behind ink cloud.
Maximum recorded mantle length is around 50cm and weight around 4kg. Specimen from warmer waters are generally smaller in size.
Eight non-retractile arms are arranged around the mouth and two long, retractile tentacles are positioned laterally. Most of the time they are hidden and only come out to catch the prey and transfer it to the eight shorter arms. Its prey is various: small fishes, shrimps, prawns and other animals that are small enough to be considered as prey.
It is demersal species, active at night. During daytime it is not very active - it is usually burrowed into the sand or hidden in some small cave or pit.
The common octopus has eyes with lens and have very good vision.
To disguise themselves in their habitat, the common octopus changes color by skin cells in which various color pigments can be pulled apart by muscle fibers, causing changes in color.
The cuttlebone is white and rounded at both posterior and anterior.
Spawning depends on location, but generally occurs in late winter and during spring when it migrates to more shallow waters - females with mature eggs can be often found from February to September. Diameter of eggs is between 6 to 8 mm.
Habitat: The Common Cuttlefish is found in eastern Atlantic from the Baltic Sea to about 17th parallel and in Mediterranean Sea.
It is commonly found in coastal waters on sandy and muddy bottoms covered with various seaweed, but it also likes overgrown moderately rocky terrain with plenty of holes and pits where it can hide and prey.
It can be found at depths between 10 and 200m. During colder months it resides between 50 and 150m, but in late winter and spring (spawning season), it migrates to shallower waters, between 10 and 30m.
Fishing period: It is important catch for the artisanal and recreational fishermen. It can be caught all year long - during colder months in larger depths and during warmer periods in more shallower waters.
Fishing rigs and tackle: It can be caught with various nets and fish traps, but in recreational fishing, rigs with special lures are commonly used.
Squid fishing rigs are very similar to rigs used for catching squids and act in the same way - they attract the squid to grab the lure with needles with their long tentacles and hopefully with their short arms. After cuttlefish is 'hooked', constant pulling is required so that one doesn't lose the catch.
On the other hand, if one pulls too strongly, long tentacles can snap and catch is lost. Be aware that when cuttlefish reaches the surface, it can spray ink all over :)
During warmer days, it can be also caught using speargun, while it is resting on the bottom or among rocks with vegetation - just be sure to reduce the strength of the speargun, otherwise you can end up with broken spear.
Cuisine: Common Cuttlefish has somewhat tough meat - somewhere between squid and octopus.
Nonetheless, it is very tasty and often sought as delicacy. It is commonly prepared as part of black risotto (with ink), but also stuffed with rice and baked with potatoes in the oven.
Also, it can be made as salad with boiled potatoes, some garlic, olive oil and few drops of lemon.