Animal Species:Reaper Cuttlefish – Sepia mestus Gray, 1849
While Sepia mestus is capable of showing diverse colour patterns, it is often seen to turn a deep rich red colour.
Standard Common Name
S. mestus can be identified by its typically red colour, a pair of black spots on the upper body, a yellow-orange eye socket and short arms.
Body papillae present, head papillae absent, arm papillae absent. Whitish mottle.
The cuttlebone is oval and broad, with anterior end slightly acuminate. The dorsal surface is bluish to white and convex. The ventral surface is flat with a narrow, median groove.
Mantle size up to 200 mm
The Reaper Cuttlefish is found in waters off eastern Australia, with a range from Southern Queensland to southern NSW.
Distribution by collection data
The Reaper Cuttlefish is often found on shallow rocky reefs, or over kelp or sand. It is believed its depth range is between 1 and 300 m, although it is most often observed on sandy and rocky drop-offs at around 10-18m. In Sydney Harbour it can often be found under rotting wharf pilings and rock ledges during the day.
Other behaviours and adaptations
Sepia mestus has a distinctive pair of oval pads of spongy tissue on the mantle. This is suspected to act as adhesion pads, assisting the animal to hold their position in turbulent water characteristic of its shallow water habitat.
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.
Reid, A.L., & Lu, C.C (2005) A new cuttlefish, Sepia filibrachia n. Sp., from the South China Sea with a redescription of Sepia mestus Gray, 1849 (Cephalopoda: Sepiidae) from eastern Australia, Zootaxa, 911: 1-22.
Watson-Russell, C. (1983) Cuttlefish of Sydney Harbour, Australian Natural History, 20(5): 159-164.