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Alloteuthis media (Linnaeus 1758)

Midsize squid

Michael Vecchione and Richard E. Young
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Containing group: Alloteuthis


This small eastern Atlantic species is the type species of the genus Alloteuthis.

Maximum mantle length 12 cm; females grow bigger than males. Length at first maturity is about 9.5 cm in females, and 5.5 cm in males.



  1. Mantle
    1. Mantle long, relatively narrow, its posterior end drawn out into a narrow, pointed tail, up to 6 cm long in adults.
  2. Fins
    1. Fins heart-shaped, their lateral angles rounded, posterior borders concave, extending posteriorly along tail.
  3. Buccal crown
    1. Buccal suckers absent.
  4. Arms:
    1. Left ventral arm hectocotylized: 10 to 12 (usually 11) normal suckers in ventral row followed distally by papillae.
  5. Tentacles
    1. Tentacles long, robust; clubs large, expanded.
    2. Large suckers in the 2 median manal series.

Habitat and biology

Found on sandy and muddy grounds.  Depth range from the surface to 350 m, usually between 20 and 200 m. Like other neritic squids, it performs seasonal migrations between offshore and inshore areas. In the Mediterranean, spawning extends throughout the year, but two groups of spawners can usually be distinguished by size and time of peak spawning, even though mixing occurs. Large individuals are encountered in February at depths between 150 and 200 m; from March to April, they start migrating into shallower waters, where spawning takes place on sandy grounds and to a minor extent, in Posidonia grass beds. The second group, composed of smaller individuals, migrates onshore in June and July and spawn later in the year. By late fall, depending on environmental temperatures, they start returning to deeper waters.

Large males may carry up to 170 spermatophores, large females 8 to 30 eggs. The eggs are shed in several batches and are encapsuled in rather short gelatinous capsules (each containing up to 1400 eggs) that are attached to hard objects on the substrate (shells, corals, stones) in batches of up to 12 capsules.

This squid feeds on crustaceans, molluscs and small fishes.
Longevity is about 1 year in males, 1 1/2 years in females.

Geographical distribution

Eastern Atlantic: Irish Sea, English Channel (very rare in North Sea) South into Mediterranean Sea.


Recent genetic analyses indicate that A. media and A. subulata may represent extremes of a morphological gradient in a single species.

Other Names for Alloteuthis media (Linnaeus 1758)

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Alloteuthis media
Acknowledgements C. F. E. Roper, Michael J. Sweeney and Cornelia E. Nauen. 1984. Cephalopods of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Species of Interest to Fisheries. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No 125, Vol. 3. 277 pp. Rome: FAO 1984.
About This Page

National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D. C. , USA

University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Michael Vecchione at and Richard E. Young at

Page: Tree of Life Alloteuthis media (Linnaeus 1758). Midsize squid. Authored by Michael Vecchione and Richard E. Young. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Vecchione, Michael and Richard E. Young. 2010. Alloteuthis media (Linnaeus 1758). Midsize squid. Version 02 September 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Alloteuthis_media/52720/2010.09.02 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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