Each winter tens of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) aggregate on a discrete area of northern Spencer Gulf, South Australia, to spawn.
Giant Australian Cuttlefish are one of the largest cuttlefish species in the world, and males can measure up to 50 cm long and weigh about 10 kg. They are amazing creatures that are expert colour changers, masters of camouflage and can change shape and texture to look like its surrounding environment.
Dr Mike Steer explaining the science behind Giant Australian Cuttlefish
Out of the blue visits Giant Australian Cuttlefish at Port Lowly
Dense Cuttlefish spawning aggregations in Point Lowly
Point Lowly, in South Australia’s northern Spencer Gulf, is the only known site where Giant Australian Cuttlefish form dense spawning aggregations.
It is not completely understood why Giant Cuttlefish aggregate in northern Spencer Gulf. It is likely that they are attracted to the shallow rocky areas along the coast as it provides optimal habitat to lay their eggs.
Research reports to investigate population decline
A number of research projects have been undertaken under the guidance of the State Government cross-agency Cuttlefish Working Group because of community concerns about population decline. These projects have now been finalised with reports available below.
The exact cause of the decline remains difficult to pinpoint, however environmental temperature appears to have a strong influence on the size of the population.
Cuttlefish population survey
As a precautionary measure, a permanent cephalopod (squid, cuttlefish, octopus) fishing closure in the False Bay/Point Lowly spawning area is in place to protect the only known dense aggregation of Giant Cuttlefish in the world. This closure prohibits the capture of any cephalopods within the area at all times. The area remains open to recreational and commercial fishers targeting other fish species.
Cuttlefish Working Group
The Cuttlefish Working Group was formed in 2012 to investigate and address the issues associated with the population and to provide advice to the Government regarding the ongoing protection and sustainability of this iconic species.
The working group has representatives from:
- Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)
- South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)
- Department for Environment and Water (DEW)
- Environment Protection Authority (EPA)
- Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)
- South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC)
- Department for State Development (DSD)
- Whyalla City Council
- Conservation Council of South Australia
- University of Adelaide
Cuttlefish research and reports
- Temporary fishing closure of Giant Australian Cuttlefish for the Northern Spencer Gulf lifted - 27 April 2020
- Cuttlefish survey indicates population in a strong position - 12 November 2018
- Giant Cuttlefish continue to thrive at Point Lowly - 25 August 2017
- Giant Australian Cuttlefish Surveys 1998 to 2015 () - February 2016
- Surveying, Searching and Promoting Giant Australian Cuttlefish Spawning Activity in Northern Spencer Gulf () - May 2015
- Investigating potential impacts of shipping on Giant Australian Cuttlefish - April 2014
- Monitoring the relative abundance and biomass of South Australia’s Giant Cuttlefish breeding population () - March 2013