Squid, octopus and cuttlefish are all cephalopods - which are a type of mollusc. This means that these large, fleshy animals are actually closely related to snails - although they have lost their shells as they have evolved.


Jump to...









Curled Octopus


Paula found the fine fella below in the shallows on Saunton Sands while Annette found the one below stranded at low tide in Ilfracombe, North Devon.


It is a Curled or Lesser Octopus (Eledone cirrhosa). This species can be found off the coast all around the British Isles.



Octopuses are incredibly clever animals - they can figure out how to open jars, for example. They have eight arms which are not only great at reaching and grabbing food, they are actually used to taste the food.


And, of course, they can change colour to help them merge into their background even though it is thought that they cannot actually see in colour themselves. 





In October 2017, we had a few days with an unusual number of sightings of curled octopus. have a look at our interactive map and photos from this extraordinary event.

The other species of octopus which can be found off the coast of Britain is the Common octopus which is found mainly off south west England.


Photo: Beckmannjan

Source: https://commons.wikimedia




This young squid was found washed up by Adele. It is a European Common Squid which a species common all around the UK coasts.


Squid move fast, by filling their bodies with water and shooting it out behind which pushes them forwards through the water - a type of jet propulsion.




Like the cuttlefish (below), squid have eight arms and two tentacles on their faces - the photograph on the right shows a squid with its arms in a point to help it move through the water.


Squid eggs often wash up on beaches. To see them, please visit our page on eggs




We often find these white chalky ovals on the beach. They are llike the skeletons of cuttlefish - actually the evolutionary remains of their shells but they are now inside the animal rather than outside. The cuttlebone is lightweight to help the animal float.

Cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles on the front of their face with which they catch crabs and fish to eat.


In th UK, Common cuttlefish are mainly found off the western and southern coasts of England. They can grow to be around 40cm long.


Lynne found the beautiful specimen below (sadly deceased) on Westward Ho! beach.


The clip below is of the skin of a recently deceased cuttlefish which kept moving long after the animal had died. 

Muscle motor neurons (the nerves that create movement within tissue), continued to twitch. These movements, when alive, form part of the way cuttlefish are believed to communicate. 


 This baby cuttlefish was found in a rockpool. It was only a few centimetres long.

Cuttlefish eggs which were washed up on the beach. For more, visit our page on eggs


Cuttlebones are often found this grooves cut in or chunks missing. These are often made by gulls as they try to eat the cuttlebone.


Cuttlebone is made of calcium which is good for birds and helps to keep their beaks in the same way a nailfile works for nails. For this reason, we often give caged birds cuttlebones.


Turtles in captivity often gnaw a cuttlebone, perhaps turtles in the wild do the same.


Rachel found this cuttlebone with blue staining (pictured below). This is from the blue-black ink that the cuttlefish makes and squirts out to frighten and confuse potential predators.

Pink Cuttlefish


Occasionally, the cuttlebone of the Pink Cuttlefish will wash up. This bone is pink and has a prominent spike at one end making it look quite different from the white cuttlebone of the Common Cuttlefish pictured above.



In February 2017, hundreds of pink cuttlebones were washed up on Woolacombe Beach, North Devon (below). By the look of them - they were caked in green algae - they had been floating at sea for some time.