Giant Australian Cuttlefish in the Spencer Gulf, South Australia

by John Counts, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

In the shadow of the Santos oil and gas processing plant and export terminal lies the only place in the world where cuttlefish come together by the tens of thousands to mate every winter. The unique geology of the area, with a seafloor composed of bedrock and tabular quartzite blocks, makes for an ideal egg-laying habitat, and thus is an attractive breeding ground for the Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama). Threatened in the past by overfishing and a desalinization plant that would have discharged large volumes of brine, the breeding ground is now a protected marine area, and numbers have increased in recent years. However, climate change, shipping, and further industrialization of the area could still impact this spectacular and unique event in the future.