Going up or sideways? Perception of space and obstacles negotiating by cuttlefish

Gabriella Scatà, Anne Sophie Darmaillacq, Ludovic Dickel, Steve McCusker, Nadav Shashar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


While octopuses are mostly benthic animals, and squid prefer the open waters, cuttlefish present a special intermediate stage. Although their body structure resembles that of a squid, in many cases their behavior is mostly benthic. To test cuttlefish's preference in the use of space, we trained juvenile Sepia gibba and Sepia officinalis cuttlefish to reach a shelter at the opposite side of a tank. Afterwards, rock barriers were placed between the starting point and the shelter. In one experiment, direct paths were available both through the sand and over the rocks. In a second experiment the direct path was blocked by small rocks requiring a short detour to by-pass. In the third experiment instead, the only direct path available was over the rocks; or else to reach the goal via an exclusively horizontal path a longer detour would have to be selected. We showed that cuttlefish prefer to move horizontally when a direct route or a short detour path is available close to the ground; however when faced with significant obstacles they can and would preferentially choose a more direct path requiring a vertical movement over a longer exclusively horizontal path. Therefore, cuttlefish appear to be predominantly benthic dwellers that prefer to stay near the bottom. Nonetheless, they do view and utilize the vertical space in their daily movements where it plays a role in night foraging, obstacles negotiation and movement in their home-range.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - 27 Mar 2017


  • Cephalopod
  • Cuttlefish
  • Obstacles negotiation
  • Space perception
  • Three-dimensional space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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