Mantle conical, without tail. Fin tongue-like or transverse-oval in larvae and juveniles, heart-shaped in adults, long but not wide, reaching tip of mantle. Arms rather long, with 2 rows of suckers in larvae; 2 rows of hooks and 2 rows of small suckers on tips in adults. Ventral arms noticeably longer than other. Tentacles long, robust, club almost not widened, with elongate-oval carpal membrane and longitudinal keel; in larvae and juveniles its central part with 4 rows of suckers, in adults with 2 rows of hooks (4 ventral hooks very large, dorsal very small); in juveniles, one row of very small suckers between small hooks. In juveniles ventral hooks appear first. Buccal membrane deep purple in color.
Photophores on ventral mantle in longitudinal rows in juveniles, diffuse in adults except bare mid-ventral strip; on ventral head in 8 longitudinal rows with some dispersed between two parallel central rows; in 3 longitudinal rows on base and 2 on tips of ventral arms (2 rows in juveniles). On eyeball, ventrally, 5 round photophores, 1st and 5th somewhat larger than other. Three round black photophores on ends of ventral arms, in larvae first 1, appearing as a white ball, then 3, becoming black. Usual egg size 1.2-1.3 mm. ML up to 6.0-6.5 cm.
A very common species through all its range, sometimes found even over the shelf. A third tropical-subtropical Atlantic species, Abraliopsis (Pfefferiteuthis) atlantica Nesis, 1982, differs from the two described above by ventral photophores on head and mantle forming longitudinal stripes (7 on head, 6 on mantle), and club without carpal membrane and keel. Juveniles hardly distinguishable.