information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



A broad mantled octopus up to 50 cm in length, with a smooth or finely tuberculate body. The arms are slender, finely tapered distally and curled when at rest, with a single row of suckers. The colour is predominantly red-brown dorsally and white ventrally but species are able to change colour quickly to match their background.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution

Eastern Atlantic: northeast Atlantic, Iceland and Mediterranean Sea.


Found on rocky coasts, lower shore, sublittoral.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Mantle ovoid, broad.
  • Skin covered with very fine, closely-set granulations, interspersed with larger warts.
  • Head narrower than body, one cirrus over each eye.
  • Arms moderately short, suckers uniserial.
  • A low, pale coloured ridge encircles the lateral periphery of the mantle.
  • Colour - living animal yellowish or reddish orange to reddish brown dorsally with diffuse rust-brown patches, white on ventral surface.

Additional information

Also commonly known as the lesser octopus or horned octopus. Spelling can also be Eledone cirrosa.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Boyle, P. R., 1986. A descriptive ecology of Eledone Cirrhosa (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) in Scottish waters. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 66, 855-865.

  2. Boyle, P.R. & Knobloch, D., 1983. The female reproductive cycle of the octopus, Eledone cirrhosa. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 63, 71-83.

  3. Boyle, P.R. (ed.), 1983. Cephalopod Life Cycles, vol 1. Species Accounts. London: Academic Press Inc. (London) Ltd.

  4. Campbell, A., 1994. Seashores and shallow seas of Britain and Europe. London: Hamlyn.

  5. Hanlon, R. T. & Messenger, J. B., 1996. Cephalopod Behaviour Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  6. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  7. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  8. ICES, 1994. Report of the study group on the life history assessment of Cephalopods. Copenhagen-Denmark ICES, K:7, 32.

  9. Miramand, P. & Bentley, D., 1992. Concentration and distribution of heavy metals in tissues of two cephalopods, Eledone cirrhosa and Sepia officinalis, from the French coast of the English Channel Marine Biology, 114, 407-414.

  10. Pierce, G.J., Boyle, P.R., Hastie, L.C. & Shanks, A.M., 1994. Distribution and abundance of the fished population of Loligo forbesii in UK waters: analysis of fishery data Special Issue: Fishery Biology of Northeast Atlantic Squid, Fisheries Issue, 21, 193-216.

  11. Roper, C.F.E., Sweeney, M.J. & Nauen, C.E., 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 3. Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries. FAO Fisheries Synopsis, 125, 3, 277.


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2008. Eledone cirrhosa Curled octopus. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 22-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008