Cephalopods are complex marine molluscs comprising octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus. A comprehensive IUCN Red List assessment of all the world’s cephalopods is coordinated by Dr Louise Allcock at Queen’s University in Belfast.
Found in all marine habitats and consisting of approximately 800 species, cephalopods play a major role in marine ecosystems and food webs, as a food source and as predators. They have been fished for thousands of years for human consumption and are currently directly experiencing fishing pressure, as well as indirectly experiencing threats due to the destruction of spawning sites by bottom trawling. They are considered to be the most intelligent invertebrates, with a complex nervous system and large brain. Most cephalopod species are able to change the colour and texture of their skin to serve a number of functions such as camouflage, mimicry and alarm displays.
Preliminary results for this assessment show that 24% of cuttlefish are classed as Least Concern, with a staggering 76% being Data Deficient, meaning we cannot conclusively assess their threat level. Squids have more information available, with 57% classed as Least Concern, although the remaining 43% are again classed as Data Deficient. Assessments are ongoing.