Cephalopods | Cephalopoda

Cephalopods, or inkfish, are the most intelligent, largest, and mobile of all mollusks. Cephalopods are characterized by their body symmetry, prominent head, and set of at least eight arms or tentacles. Cephalopods earned the nickname inkfish because of their common ability to be able to squirt ink. There are two existing groups of Cephalopods: Coleoidea and Nautiloidea; Coleoidea has internalized their molluscan shell while Nautiloidea still has an external shell. Cephalopods live only in marine environments and are predatory creatures. Cephalopods are capable of changing color and they usually change color in complex patterns as part of courtship behavior.

How do cephalopods move?

The main way cephalopods move is through a form of jet propulsion. They do so by drawing water into their mantle cavity and over their gills. Once the cephalopod wants to move it contracts the muscles of the mantle cavity, and water is squeezed out with enough power to propel itself in the desired direction.

What do cephalopods eat?

Cephalopods are predators and are not picky carnivores. Cephalopods typically eat crustaceans, fish, bivalves, jellyfish, and even other cephalopods. They tend to hunt at the surface of water at night without the threat of predators seeing them. Once the sun rises, they go down to deeper and darker water.

How do cephalopods mate?

Mating for cephalopods is an event that only happens once in their life, as they both die shortly after mating. When females are ready to mate, they will display a certain color. The male will mate with her by placing his sperm in the female’s pallial cavity, with a tentacle called the hectocotylus. The female cephalopod then lays the fertilized eggs.

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Cephalopods Guides
Browse through our curated Cephalopods Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Cephalopods. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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9.8”-15” | 25-38 cm
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
.5-1 year
Bigfin Reef Squid
38.000
1.400
1.00
1600
3D
Bigfin Reef Squid
13’-26.25’ | 4-8 m
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
Bigfin Squid
800.000
1.400
55450
3D
Bigfin Squid
18”-23” | 46-58 cm (Arm)
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
1-2 years
California Two-Spot Octopus
58.000
4.000
2.00
1500
3D
California Two-Spot Octopus
19.7”-23.6” | 50-60 cm (Arm)
2.2-3.3 lb | 1-1.5 kg
10-12 months
Caribbean Reef Octopus
60.000
1.500
1.00
1060
3D
Caribbean Reef Octopus
4.7”-7.9” | 12-20 cm
1-3 years
Caribbean Reef Squid
20.000
3.00
1590
3D
Caribbean Reef Squid
6.3”-8.3” | 16-21 cm
.88-1.3 lb | .4-.6 kg
15-20 years
Chambered Nautilus
21.000
0.600
20.00
15400
3D
Chambered Nautilus
9.8’-13.1’ | 3-4 m
2-3 years
Cockatoo Squid
400.000
3.00
730
3D
Cockatoo Squid
2.75”-3.5” | 7-9 cm (Arm)
.5-1.5 lb | .23-.69 kg
3-5 years
Coconut Octopus
9.000
0.690
5.00
4450
3D
Coconut Octopus
30’-49’ | 9-15 m
330-1091 lb | 150-495 kg
Colossal Squid
1500.000
495.000
137100
3D
Colossal Squid
6’-6.6’ | 1.83-2 m
~2.2 lb | 1 kg
3-5 years
Common Blanket Octopus
200.000
1.000
5.00
630
3D
Common Blanket Octopus
6”-10” | 15-25 cm
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
1-2 years
Common Cuttlefish
25.000
4.000
2.00
9100
3D
Common Cuttlefish
29.9”-39.4” | 76-100 cm (Arm)
6.6-22 lb | 3-10 kg
1-2 years
Common Octopus
100.000
10.000
2.00
22300
3D
Common Octopus
39”-51” | 99-130 cm
44-66 lb | 20-30 kg
1 year
Diamond Squid
130.000
30.000
1.00
750
3D
Diamond Squid
7.9”-11.8” | 20-30 cm
2-13 lb | .9-5.9 kg
3-5 years
Dumbo Octopus
30.000
5.900
5.00
94040
3D
Dumbo Octopus
11.8”-19.7” | 30-50 cm (Arm)
.22-.88 lb | .1-.4 kg
1-2 years
East Pacific Red Octopus
50.000
0.400
2.00
660
3D
East Pacific Red Octopus
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
.66-.88 lb | .3-.4 kg
1.5-2 years
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
13.000
0.400
2.00
5800
3D
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
7’-13’ | 2.13-3.96 m (Arm)
22-110 lb | 10-50 kg
3-5 years
Giant Pacific Octopus
396.000
50.000
5.00
35000
3D
Giant Pacific Octopus
3’-5’6” | .91-1.68 m
33’-46’ | 10-14 m
440-2,000 lb | 200-907 kg
2-5 years
Giant Squid
168.000
1400.000
907.000
5.00
88000
3D
Giant Squid
15.75”-17.7” | 40-45 cm
.06-.07 lb | .025-.03 kg
Glass Octopus
45.000
0.030
14800
3D
Glass Octopus
11.8”-17.7” | 30-45 cm
.06-.07 lb | .025-.03 kg
1 year
Greater Argonaut
45.000
0.030
1.00
1320
3D
Greater Argonaut
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
.02-.22 lb | .01-.1 kg
2-3 years
Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
15.000
0.100
3.00
650
3D
Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
4.9’-8.2’ | 1.5-2.5 m
99-110 lb | 45-50 kg
1-2 years
Humboldt Squid
250.000
50.000
2.00
28600
3D
Humboldt Squid
11.8”-19.7” | 30-50 cm
.22-1.1 lb | .1-.5 kg
1 year
Japanese Flying Squid
50.000
0.500
1.00
1600
3D
Japanese Flying Squid
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
1 year
Japanese Squid
15.000
1.00
2100
3D
Japanese Squid
23.6”-27.6” | 60-70 cm
5-20 lb | 2.3-9.1 kg
.75-2 years
Mimic Octopus
70.000
9.100
2.00
16350
3D
Mimic Octopus
9.5’-11.5’ | 2.9-3.5 m
135-165 lb | 61-75 kg
2-10 years
Seven-Arm Octopus
350.000
75.000
10.00
1300
3D
Seven-Arm Octopus
.8”-1” | 2-2.5 cm
~.002 lb | .001 kg
.5-1.5 years
Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
2.500
0.001
1.50
1120
3D
Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
13”-39.4” | 33-100 cm
Strawberry Squid
100.000
17890
3D
Strawberry Squid
4.3”-10.6” | 11-27 cm
Telescope Octopus
27.000
2440
3D
Telescope Octopus
6”-12” | 15-30 cm
~1 lb | .45 kg
6-10 years
Vampire Squid
30.000
0.450
10.00
79600
3D
Vampire Squid
Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis bathynectes)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Dumbo Octopus compared to other cephalopods

The Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis) is a cephalopod that was named after its resemblance to Disney’s Dumbo character. There are about 13 species of Dumbo Octopuses. The Dumbo Octopus has two ear-like fins that extend from each eye and a bell-shaped body with a pale coloring. Dumbo Octopuses live all over the world at extreme depths of up to 13,000 ft (3,962 m) below the surface, and hover over the seafloor. Their diet consists of snails, worms, crustaceans, and copepods. Dumbo Octopuses do not ink like other as they don’t need defense in their environment. They are currently not in danger of extinction.

The Dumbo Octopus has an overall length between 7.9”-11.8” (20-30 cm), mantle length of 3.94”-4.7” (10-12 cm), and weight of 2-13 lb (.9-5.9 kg). The typical lifespan of the Dumbo Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Dumbo Octopus
The Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis) is a cephalopod that was named after its resemblance to Disney’s Dumbo character. There are about 13 species of Dumbo Octopuses. The Dumbo Octopus has two ear-like fins that extend from each eye and a bell-shaped body with a pale coloring.

The Dumbo Octopus has an overall length between 7.9”-11.8” (20-30 cm), mantle length of 3.94”-4.7” (10-12 cm), and weight of 2-13 lb (.9-5.9 kg). The typical lifespan of the Dumbo Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Dumbo Octopus
Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis bathynectes)
Height:
Width:
Length:
7.9”-11.8” | 20-30 cm
Depth:
Weight:
2-13 lb | .9-5.9 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 3.94”-4.7” | 10-12 cm

Scientific Name
Grimpoteuthis bathynectes
Lifespan
3-5 years

Drawings include:

Dumbo Octopus side elevation, front

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Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish compared to other cephalopods

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is a cephalopod with an oval mantle and broad arms. They have 2 tentacles, 8 arms, and skin changes between vibrant colors to attract prey, threaten predators, or mate. This species of cuttlefish can only float and typically swims for short periods of time. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish seems to walk on the ocean floor using their arms rather than swim and has a highly developed sensory system. They are found in Indo-Pacific Ocean including Northern Australia and the surrounding islands. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish is carnivorous and eats fish and crustaceans. Their current conservation status is unknown.

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish has an overall length between 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), mantle length of 2.4”-3.1” (6-8 cm), and weight of .66-.88 lb (.3-.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is between 1.5-2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
The Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is a cephalopod with an oval mantle and broad arms. They have 2 tentacles, 8 arms, and skin changes between vibrant colors to attract prey, threaten predators, or mate. This species of cuttlefish can only float and typically swims for short periods.

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish has an overall length between 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), mantle length of 2.4”-3.1” (6-8 cm), and weight of .66-.88 lb (.3-.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is between 1.5-2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Height:
Width:
Length:
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.66-.88 lb | .3-.4 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 2.4”-3.1” | 6-8 cm

Scientific Name
Metasepia pfefferi
Lifespan
1.5-2 years

Drawings include:

Flamboyant Cuttlefish side elevation, front

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Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus)
Scale illustration of an average Common Blanket Octopus compared to other cephalopod species

The Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus) is a cephalopod that was named after the webbing between their arms. Females are much larger in size than males. Whenever the Common Blanket Octopus feels threatened, they stretch their arms to create a blanket-like silhouette to frighten any predators away. They generally can be found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, easily adapt to different water temperatures, and never rest on the ocean floor. Common Blanket Octopuses are carnivorous and prey on fish by using a ripped tentacle from toxic jellyfish as a weapon. Common Blanket Octopuses are listed as least concern to extinction.

The Common Blanket Octopus has an overall length between 6’-6.6’ (1.83-2 m), mantle length of 7.1”-9.8” (18-25 cm), and weight of roughly 2.2 lb (1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Common Blanket Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Common Blanket Octopus
The Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus) is a cephalopod that was named after the webbing between their arms. Females are much larger in size than males. Whenever the Common Blanket Octopus feels threatened, they stretch their arms to create a blanket-like silhouette to frighten predators.

The Common Blanket Octopus has an overall length between 6’-6.6’ (1.83-2 m), mantle length of 7.1”-9.8” (18-25 cm), and weight of roughly 2.2 lb (1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Common Blanket Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Common Blanket Octopus
Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus)
Height:
Width:
Length:
6’-6.6’ | 1.83-2 m
Depth:
Weight:
~2.2 lb | 1 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 7.1”-9.8” | 18-25 cm

Scientific Name
Tremoctopus violaceus
Lifespan
3-5 years

Drawings include:

Common Blanket Octopus side elevation, front

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Chambered Nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Chambered Nautilus to other cephalopods

The Chambered Nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) also referred to as the Pearly Nautilus, is the most commonly known species of Nautilus. It is one of the six species of Nautilus that has an external shell. The Chambered Nautilus is able to retract into its shell when it feels threatened. Its shell ranges in the colors white, orange, and white stripes with a central black spot. The Chambered Nautilus is found in tropical waters of the East Indian and west Pacific Ocean. Their diet is made up of underwater carrion, shellfish, and crabs. The Chambered Nautilus is considered to be vulnerable to extinction.

The Chambered Nautilus has an overall length between 6.3”-8.3” (16-21 cm) and weight of .88-1.3 lb (.4-.6 kg). The typical lifespan of the Chambered Nautilus is between 15-20 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Chambered Nautilus in various poses
The Chambered Nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) also referred to as the Pearly Nautilus, is the most commonly known species of Nautilus. It is one of the six species of Nautilus that has an external shell. The Chambered Nautilus is able to retract into its shell when it feels threatened.

The Chambered Nautilus has an overall length between 6.3”-8.3” (16-21 cm) and weight of .88-1.3 lb (.4-.6 kg). The typical lifespan of the Chambered Nautilus is between 15-20 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Chambered Nautilus in various poses
Chambered Nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)
Height:
Width:
Length:
6.3”-8.3” | 16-21 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.88-1.3 lb | .4-.6 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Nautilus pompilius
Lifespan
15-20 years

Drawings include:

Chambered Nautilus side elevation, front

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Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Giant Pacific Octopus to other cephalopods

The Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest octopus species and lives longer than any other octopus. They are highly intelligent as they are known to use tools and also recognize faces. The Giant Pacific Octopus has a large head, is red-brown in color, and like most other octopuses is able to change colors and textures. The Giant Pacific Octopus can be found along the coast of the North Pacific and are highly adapted to cold waters. They hunt at night and generally eat shrimp, clams, lobsters, and fish. Some also attack both sharks and fish with their hard beaks.

The Giant Pacific Octopus has an arm length between 7’-13’ (2.13-3.96 m), mantle length of 19.7”-23.6” (50-60 cm), and weight of 22-110 lb (10-50 kg). The typical lifespan of the Giant Pacific Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Giant Pacific Octopus in various poses
The Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest octopus species and lives longer than any other octopus. They are highly intelligent as they are known to use tools and also recognize faces. The Giant Pacific Octopus has a large head and is red-brown in color.

The Giant Pacific Octopus has an arm length between 7’-13’ (2.13-3.96 m), mantle length of 19.7”-23.6” (50-60 cm), and weight of 22-110 lb (10-50 kg). The typical lifespan of the Giant Pacific Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Giant Pacific Octopus in various poses
Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
Height:
Width:
Length:
7’-13’ | 2.13-3.96 m (Arm)
Depth:
Weight:
22-110 lb | 10-50 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 19.7”-23.6” | 50-60 cm

Scientific Name
Enteroctopus dofleini
Lifespan
3-5 years

Drawings include:

Giant Pacific Octopus side elevation, front

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