Curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa)

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



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 -


  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. Avaliable:


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Cofnod – North Wales Environmental Information Service, 2018. Miscellaneous records held on the Cofnod database. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) data for Great Britain and Ireland - restricted access. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  4. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) records for Great Britain and Ireland. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  5. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-38

  6. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2017. Isle of Man wildlife records from 01/01/2000 to 13/02/2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  7. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  8. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  9. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-07-25

  10. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Molluscs (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2008. Eledone cirrhosa Curled octopus. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 25-07-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008