Why we're watching the giant Australian cuttlefish

phys.org | 8/15/2018 | Staff
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Australia is home to the world's only known site where cuttlefish gather to mate en masse.

From May to August, if you head into the water around Point Lowly, South Australia, it will be a chilly 12℃. But you'll be able to observe what look like aliens – hundreds, even thousands of tentacled organisms with their unusual distinctive W-shaped eye pupils, and pulsating colours moving across their body.

Intent - Mating - Cuttlefish - Presence

Intent on mating, the cuttlefish will be totally oblivious to your presence.

But this population of cuttlefish dropped in abundance from an estimated 150,000 animals in the late 1990s to only 13,492 in 2013.

Counts - Years - Creatures - Research - Sorts

Although counts in recent years suggest the creatures have recovered, my research aims to determine what sorts of factors influence this very unique cuttlefish population. This may allow us to better manage and protect the species – important not just for science, but also for the local environment and economy.

Every time I head to the Point Lowly coastline and dive with the giant Australian cuttlefish I'm amazed and excited by their antics.

Name - Misnomer - Giant - Australian - Cuttlefish

The name "giant" is perhaps a misnomer. Giant Australian cuttlefish only ever reach about one metre in size. Most animals are much smaller, especially in South Australia.

Cephalopods have been described as rockstars of the sea for their "live fast, die young" life history strategy – they grow rapidly, reproduce early and die following reproduction. Giant Australian cuttlefish live for 1-2 years.

Waters - Australia - Cuttlefish - Populations - Studies

Although they are found in waters across southern Australia, giant Australian cuttlefish live in distinct populations that do not interact. We know from genetic studies that those breeding along that small area of Upper Spencer Gulf coastline are restricted to an area north from a line across the gulf from Wallaroo to Arno Bay (around 6,500 km²).

Outside the breeding season of May to August they are distributed throughout this northern region....
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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