Cuttlefish

The Giant Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) is one of the largest cuttlefish species in the world.

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.

A number of research projects have been undertaken under the guidance of the State Government cross-agency Cuttlefish Working Group because of community fears about population decline. A number of these projects have now been finalised with reports available below.

The exact cause of the decline remains difficult to pinpoint to a specific origin. The research to date has been valuable in eliminating possible causes and adding to knowledge on this iconic species.

Promisingly, in 2014 the population survey at the Point Lowly aggregation site recorded the first population increase of Cuttlefish in six years, 57,317, up from 13,492 in 2013. While the working group is cautiously optimistic about this increase in numbers, the group has committed to continuing its population monitoring survey in 2015 to determine whether last year’s upward trend is ongoing.

Research reports

Cuttlefish update newsletter

Fishing closures

All cephalopods

There is no strong evidence to suggest that recent fishing activity has impacted the Giant Cuttlefish population. However a number of precautionary fisheries management measures have been undertaken to protect the cuttlefish while research continues.

A cephalopod fishing closure has protected the Point Lowly spawning area since 1998. This closure prohibits the capture of any cephalopods:

  • cuttlefish
  • squid
  • octopus
within the area at all time.

Go to the cephalopod closure page.

The area remains open to recreational and commercial fishers targeting other fish species.

Cuttlefish

Another temporary closure was implemented in March 2013. It prohibits the targeting and take of Giant Australian Cuttlefish.

Fishers are allowed to catch other cephalopods including Southern Calamary and Octopus within the area. Any Giant Cuttlefish inadvertently caught in the closure area must be immediately and carefully returned to the water.

The closure is in place until 15 February 2018.

Go to the cuttlefish closure page.

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, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR)
  • 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

More information

Media releases

Page Last Reviewed: 26 Jul 2017
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