Giant Cuttlefish returns to the Spencer Gulf for Coitis

Giant Cuttlefish returns to the Spencer Gulf for Coitis

South Australian scientists are ecstatic to find that the Great Australian Cuttlefish has returned to the Spencer Gulf for breeding this year. Their numbers have been down over the last few years and scientists don’t know why, or where they went.

The Great Australian Cuttlefish can weigh up to 13kg.

The Great Australian Cuttlefish can weigh up to 13kg. Image: Howard Womersley.

The cuttlefish, with it’s blue blood pumped through three hearts, and the ability to change colour at the drop of a shell, makes the cuttlefish an enigmatic creature to say the least.

The increase in the breeding aggregation numbers this year is also a source of interest to scientists.

“We’ve looked at a whole range of biotic and abotic factors that could have contributed to it, but nothing jumps out.” says Professor Bronwyn Gillanders.

Gillanders says she is quite excited to that there were a lot sighted early in the season, but that the proof will be when surveys are completed to estimate the abundances on this years breeding aggregation.

Listen to Bronwyn Gillanders speak about the cuttlefish on ABC Rural.

The South Australian Giant Cuttlefish Needs YOU!

The South Australian Giant Cuttlefish Needs YOU!

The Australian giant cuttlefish is the largest cuttlefish species in the world reaching a total length of up to 1 m and a weight of 15 kg.  Researcher Bronwyn Gillanders at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute is heading up research on these cuttlefish as part of the Spencer Gulf Ecosystem & Development Initiative (SGEDI).

Giant Cuttlefish logged on REDMAP, April 2013

Giant Cuttlefish logged on REDMAP, April 2013

During May and June, the Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) will form dense spawning aggregations in around Point Lowly, in the northern Spencer Gulf, South Australia. This is the only know site in the world where the cuttlefish congregate to breed.

Over the last few years however, the numbers of these aggregations are on the decline and scientists aren’t sure why. Are the Giant Cuttlefish choosing to lay their eggs somewhere else?

This is where you can help! If you spot a group of 10 or more Giant Australian Cuttlefish in South Australian waters, you can log it on the REDMAP (Range Extension Database and Mapping Project) website.

Recreational and commercial fishers, SCUBA divers, boaters and scientists are being invited to spot, log and map sightings of Giant Australian Cuttlefish. Researchers are interested in sightings of aggregations of more than 10 adult cuttlefish as well as eggs, when spotted in South Australian waters, especially northern Spencer Gulf.

REDMAP Australian CuttlefishREDMAP Australian Cuttlefish2















You can find out more and download the information flyer. We hope to see your sightings pop up over the coming months!

Spencer Gulf Ecosystem & Development Initiative Workshops

Workshops to discuss the progress on the Spencer Gulf Ecosystem and Development Initiative (SGEDI) are being conducted in regional areas and Adelaide over the next four weeks.

This is a four year program, led by the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide. The program aims to provide all stakeholders with access to independent and credible information. We seek to enable positive environmental decision making for groups and individuals associated with the Gulf.

Cumulative Impact and the Spencer Gulf System

Cumulative Impact and the Spencer Gulf System

Workshop locations:

·         Port Augusta – Tuesday 18 February – Charles Chappell room, Standpipe Golf Motor Inn, Corner Eyre and Stuart Highways from 1.30pm until 4.30pm

·         Whyalla – Tuesday 11 March  – Training Room, Whyalla Library, 7-9 Ekblom Street from 1.00pm until 4.30pm

·         Wallaroo – Tuesday 25 February – Supper Room, Wallaroo Town Hall, Section 1634 Irwine St from 1.00pm until 4.30pm

·         Port Lincoln – Wednesday 26 February – Lecture Theatre, Lincoln Marine Science Centre, 1 Hindmarsh St from 1.00pm until 4.00pm

·         Adelaide – Friday 7 March – Seminar Room West, Masonic Hall, North Terrace TBC.

The aim of these workshops is to discuss the work that has been undertaken in the last twelve months. This includes:

  • a summary of the findings from the last series of stakeholder workshops that were conducted at the end of 2012
  • a review of the scientific knowledge about the Spencer Gulf’s marine environment
  • an assessment of key knowledge gaps
  • pathways for the next period of research

Download the Spencer Gulf Ecosystem and Development Initiative Summary (PDF)

In order to cater, we would be pleased if you could RSVP with your chosen location before 14 February by email to

Feel free to contact the Environment Institute for more information on (08) 8313 0543.