Caribbean reef squid (Teuthida: Loliginidae: Sepioteuthis sepioidea) are often mistaken for cuttlefish because of their physical appearance. Most squid are elongated and have relatively short fins along the tips of their arrow-shaped bodies. Like cuttlefish, however, these squid have fins that extend along the entire lengths of their short, stout bodies. Their Latin name even means “a squid that look like a cuttlefish.” Interestingly, cuttlefish are completely absent from the waters around the Americas. So if you see a cephalopod like this in or around the Caribbean, it’s definitely a squid. Caribbean reef squid in particular are the species most often encountered by people.
These marine invertebrates spend their time in different habitats depending on their age. Young squid are tiny and stick close to vegetation, away from both the surface and the bottom to avoid predators. Adults, in contrast, will dive to over 300 feet (100 m) in the open ocean at night to hunt. During breeding season they spend their days near shallow coral reefs and rocks where they’re often observed by divers, snorkelers, and even people on the surface.
These squid feed on small fish as well as arthropods like shrimp. They hunt exclusively by sight, made possible by their relatively large eyes. They have two long tentacles that remain hidden within their eight shorter arms until they’re ready to strike. They can lash out with their tentacles, grab prey, and bring it in toward their arms and mouth for consumption. They’re preyed upon by birds, fish, and humans, who often enjoy the flavor and texture of fresh calamari.