Southern Reef Squid, Sepioteuthis australis


Marvel at the range of astounding creatures within this group that encompasses squid, octopuses and cuttles found off Queensland shores.


This entirely marine class includes such familiar animals as the octopus, cuttlefish and squid and also the so-called ‘living-fossil’ Nautilus and the extinct ammonites. As the name suggests the limbs are closely associated with the head, and in most cephalopods these limbs (arms and tentacles) possess numerous suckers which help to secure prey. Typically the shell is internalized (or absent as in octopods) but in Nautilus the animal occupies the last chamber of a spiral shell.

Cephalopods have a powerful beak for killing crustaceans, fish or other molluscs, and use their radular teeth for processing ingested tissues. Many species use venoms to immobilize prey items and some such as the Blue-lined Octopus are capable of inflicting serious or even fatal injuries to humans. Many species of squid, octopus and cuttlefish are of major commercial importance (primarily as seafood).

Common questions

Yes – sort of. Sperm whales are toothed whales and prey on sharks, fish, and squid. If a sperm whale hunts and snares a giant squid, the squid will frantically do all it can to get away from this much larger predator. In so doing there are often many tentacle-sucker scars left on the whale’s body – but generally the squid has little chance surviving this encounter.

Although some people mistakenly believe they are types of octopus, the term ‘calamari’ refers to certain species of squid. The term is more generally applied to the meat of squid served in restaurants in English-speaking countries.

The paper nautilus or argonaut refers to a group of open water pelagic octopuses. Superficially the argonaut egg case constructed by female argonauts resembles a nautilus shell (which is also a cephalopod) but lacks the shell-compartments necessary for gas and water exchange.

They can be, so best to avoid them! The term refers to a group of similar species, all of which flash blue rings when aggravated. In southern Queensland waters the Blue-lined Octopus, Hapalochlaena fasciata, is frequently encountered in rock pools at low tide. It has blue lines on the body and blue rings on the arms and webs. Strong venom can be injected via their small parrot-like beak. Medical attention should be sought immediately if bitten!

Fact sheets


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