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Sepioteuthis australis (Family Loliginidae)

Southern Calamary, Southern Calamari Squid


Southern half of Australia from southern Queensland in the east to Shark Bay in the west (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA).


A moderate to large muscular squid that reaches up to 50 cm in length. The fins extend along the entire length of the body, combining to form a diamond shape. There are eight arms and two extendable feeding tentacles. The arms and tips of the feeding tentacles have suckers with a horny teethed rim. The shell consists of a thin transparent feather-shaped structure. The colour patterns are generally yellow-green to orange. Colour patterns often include three or four dark bars across the upper or lower surfaces of the body. The skin is smooth.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This squid is common in shallow inshore waters, often in sand habitats and seagrass meadows. It is mainly active at night but can also be seen active during the day. Younger animals form small schools with larger adults tending to be more solitary. They are fast swimmers, using both the fins and jet propulsion. They primarily feed on fish and shrimp and will regularly approach divers lights at night to catch fish attracted to the lights. Their main defences are high speed jetting and ink squirting but they are also capable of good camouflage amongst weed.

Mating consists of males placing sperm packages within the gill cavity of the female. Females lay finger-like strings of white fleshy eggs amongst weed. Each string contains around six eggs, the separate egg segments becoming more obvious as the eggs mature. Egg masses frequently wash ashore after storms. Young can still hatch from such beach-washed eggs if the egg masses are returned to the water. In some areas, such as the east coast of Tasmania, large breeding aggregations can form.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This squid is very popular for human consumption. It is caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries. Spawning aggregations are targeted as a small-scale fishery in Tasmania. It is also very popular with recreational fishermen who use baitless jigs and long jig poles to fish from piers and jetties at dusk.

Further Reading:

Lu, C.C. and R.W. Tait. 1983. Taxonomic studies on Sepioteuthis Blainville (Cephalopoda: Loliginidae) from the Australian region. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 95: 181-204.

Norman, M.D. and A. Reid. 2000. A guide to the squid, cuttlefishes and octopuses of Australasia. Gould League/CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne. 96 pp.

Norman, M.D. 2000. Cephalopods: A world guide. ConchBooks, Hackenheim, Germany.


Text, map and photograph by Mark Norman, Museum Victoria.

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