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Cuttlefish can school in the field


Cuttlefish (Sepiidae) are usually solitary in nature, but we have found evidence that the broadclub cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) forms schools. S. latimanus groups of various sizes were observed for 145 min in Okinawa, Japan. The groups were comprised of 2–9 members that were usually of similar body sizes. The groups continuously changed shape, forming either clusters or lines. The groups were regarded as schools and had characteristic structures such as synchronized and polarized swimming with similar distances apart from each other (~4.0 mantle length), and swam in parallel (under 20° or over 110° in angle) to their nearest neighbours, regardless of the numbers of members in the group. Small members sometimes followed larger members within the school. These characteristics were similar to those observed in schools of Teuthoidea squid. Schools comprising large numbers of members frequently exhibited hunting behaviour for small crustaceans and fish. This is the first observation of schooling behaviour in wild Sepiidae.

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We thank S. Abe, T. Ao, S. Toyosaki, C. Sugimoto, R. Mito, and T. Nishibayashi for their kind cooperation in the field observations. We also thank J. R. Bower for his useful comments. We acknowledge J. D. Reimer for proofreading of the manuscript.

Author information

Correspondence to Yuzuru Ikeda.

Additional information

H. Yasumuro: JSPS Research Fellow.

Communicated by G. Pierce.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Video S1. A typical school of S. latimanus constructed by 4 members, in which the school exhibited a cluster shape (MPG 7514 kb)

Online Resource 1. Synchronized and polarized swimming groups in Sepia latimanus, which were categorized as schooling (DOCX 42 kb)

Video S1. A typical school of S. latimanus constructed by 4 members, in which the school exhibited a cluster shape (MPG 7514 kb)

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Yasumuro, H., Nakatsuru, S. & Ikeda, Y. Cuttlefish can school in the field. Mar Biol 162, 763–771 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-015-2622-z

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  • Neighbour Distance
  • Reef Slope
  • Transverse Line
  • Near Neighbour Distance
  • Mantle Length