The Giant Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) is one of the largest cuttlefish species in the world.
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. A number of 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
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.
The 2018 survey results show the annual estimate of Giant Australian Cuttlefish abundance increased from 124,992 individuals in 2017 to 150,408 in 2018.
While the working group is cautiously optimistic about this increase in numbers, an extension of the temporary fishing closure for Cuttlefish in the northern Spencer Gulf is in place until 15 February 2020.
Giant Cuttlefish video from 'Out of the Blue' TV series
- Giant Australian Cuttlefish Surveys 1998 to 2015 () - February 2016
- Surveying, Searching and Promoting Giant Australian Cuttlefish Spawning Activity in Northern Spencer Gulf () - May 2015
- Monitoring the relative abundance and biomass of South Australia’s Giant Cuttlefish breeding population () - March 2013
- Investigating potential impacts of shipping on Giant Australian Cuttlefish - April 2014
Cuttlefish update newsletter
- Cuttlefish update - Issue 5: 12 June 2015 ()
- Cuttlefish update - Issue 4: 25 July 2014 ( or )
- Cuttlefish update - Issue 3: 27 February 2014 ( or )
- Cuttlefish update - Issue 2: 26 June 2013 ()
- Cuttlefish update - Issue 1: 24 April 2013 ()
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 within the area at all time:
The area remains open to recreational and commercial fishers targeting other fish species.
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 Calamari 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 2020.
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 survey indicates population in a strong position - 12 November 2018