Help save the Giant Australian Cuttlefish Whyalla breeding ground (Lowly Point)

SaveCuttlefish

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#1

Hi everyone, this marine conservation post should be particularly pertinent to all of you.

One of our beloved cephalopods is in trouble! Some of you will already be familiar with the mass breeding aggregation of Giant Australian Cuttlefish which occurs each winter in the chilly waters of Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia. It's a remarkable thing to see- hundreds of thousands of animals up to 1 metre in length courting, fighting, displaying, disguising themselves, laying and tending their eggs... it truly is a natural wonder.

This year however, the population arriving at the breeding ground numbered just 25,000 animals. Despite being another bumper year for tourists, the number of animals was down from 250,000 the previous season. You're probably all familiar with the short-lived nature of these animals, so needless to say, there is immediate cause for concern. Other unusual observations were also made, with many of the animals' eggs failing to adhere to the undersides of the rocks where they were placed.

Unfortunately, the story gets worse. The Lowly Peninsula to which these animals migrate annually is marked for potential industrial development, several of which will further disturb their habitat and pollute their water. The most imminent proposed threat is a desalination plant to provide water to BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine. BHP have proposed to pump the waste-water brine back into the gulf, adjacent to the cuttlefish breeding grounds. They argue that the current and tidal flow at the position of the outflow are sufficient to disperse the brine and not impact on the cuttlefish breeding grounds. Other scientists including oceanographer Jochen Kaempf have different opinions, and have shown the risks are likely to be much greater than published in BHP Billiton's Environmental Impact Statement.

Scientists from the University of Adelaide have shown that raising salinity above 20% of the already naturally high salinity of the area results in total mortality of cuttlefish eggs, with similar results recorded in squid (who also breed in the area). The Upper Spencer Gulf is home to rocky reef, sandy bottom, mangrove, seagrass and sponge bed habitats, and it's health is critical to a wide range of marine organisms. The area is also currently marked for future Marine Park classification in 2012.

My wife and I are currently making a documentary film, online video series and are spearheading a campaign to protect these animals and their home. You can help us by signing and sharing our petition, downloading campaign posters and distributing them. There are a few other ways to help too.. we have some bumper stickers for cars and tshirts to wear to promote the cause... and we're soon to start collecting donations for our film's ongoing production.


Thanks for your support everyone... we've been recommended to raise 5000 signatures before we send out a press release nationally in Australia, and we need to reach that number as soon as possible. Thanks in advance for your compassion and support! :snorkel:
 

tonmo

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Welcome, and thanks for the post!

If you check our Ceph News Feed forum, you'll see we've had a few discussions about the problems that you're looking to uncover. Really glad you're here, and very much looking forward to seeing this develop.

I'll stick this thread!
 

SaveCuttlefish

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Thanks for the warm welcome, Tony.. I'll have a trawl through the previous threads and shed some light on them. The most pressing concern is the desal plant... we're expecting an announcement soon from the State Government who were itching to close the BHP Billiton Olympic Dam expansion plan ahead of our state premier's resignation on October 20th. The premier and the treasurer have been dealing with BHPB behind closed doors, and BHP Billiton have a 'no interviews' policy when it comes to the indpendent media (so we've been told). There's also a deep water port plan (to serve the mines again, but not a BHPB project specifically) which is undergoing a feasiblity study at the moment. If it progresses, it will likely involve dredging to improve access to deep (20m+) water and also disturb their rocky reef habitat to drive pilons into the sea floor. If the port goes ahead, it will be a commercial facility for the purpose of exporting minerals, which will further exclude the public and scientists from working in this area, the same way there exists an exclusion zone presently around the Port Bonython jetty there. there are alse concerns about pollutants and risks of oil spills, as occured back in 1992... we'll be releasing the information as we gather and assemble it of course. :snorkel:
 

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SaveCuttlefish

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Possible impacts on the 2011 cuttlefish breeding aggregation

neurobadger;181966 said:
What's being tossed around as hypothetical causes of the 90% drop in cuttlefish numbers?
1. Weather

The first variable being considered is weather. It's been an unusual year for the Upper Spencer Gulf. The cuttlefish generally start arriving at the breeding grounds when the water temp drops to 17 degrees C. This happened 6 weeks late this year. It was also a year of unusually high rainfall, which is likely to have had an effect on salinity and water chemistry. The best case scenario we can hope for, is that the animals are still alive elsewhere in the region and simply did not migrate this year due to unfavourable conditions.

2. Fishing Pressure

Fishing pressure is an ongoing concern for this population. A year-round cuttlefish no-take zone exists around the breeding grounds (and is likely to be extended in area soon) but where the cuttlefish specifically migrate from is unknown. It is believed by Adelaide University scientists that the population is local to the Upper Spencer Gulf region, and is likely to be a distinct species or subspecies. These animals are caught by fishers to use or sell as bait. They have been historically sold as pet food also, though I'm unsure of the current market for these animals. Cuttlefish is also a popular snackfood in Asian cultures, though I'm not sure where the commercial cuttlefish catch ends up after processing. The bag limit for recreational fishers is WAY too generous in my opinion- they are currently allowed to catch 15 animals per day, or 45 per boat. I don't know how the commercial pressure targetting cuttlefish is licensed, monitored or regulated.

3. Industrial pollution - Santos

The Santos Gas Fractionation Plant at Port Bonython has been contaminating groundwater at their site since at least 2008 (believed by some to be even earlier). Santos have attempted to prevent the leaking hydrocarbons from entering the marine environment by constructing a subterranean barrier wall, with alleged success. Little has been disclosed publicly about this matter, and Santos is currently in court with the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) here in South Australia. The Port Bonython facility is the only industrial footprint on the peninsula and exports hydrocarbons from its 2.5 km long jetty. The rocky reef beneath and beside Santos' facility known as Stony Point, and is the popular strip for the cuttlefish to meet and breed on. It is also the most accessible dive site, with walk-in access, although divers cannot enter an exclusion zone 200 metres from their shoreline or loading facility. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the animals favour the area less and less in recent years. There was also an oil spill at the Port Bonython jetty back in 1992 which released 296 tonnes of heavy bunker fuel into the Gulf, which killed hectares of mangroves on the Port Pirie (Eastern) side of the gulf, though that incident was not likely to have effected the cuttlefish directly. Back in 1992, the cuttlefish aggregation was not documented in any way.

4. Prawn Trawlers changed their grounds

Apparently, this year the local prawn trawling fleet from south of Whyalla changed their trawling pattern/grounds. We are yet to investigate this. Trawlers pose a well described threat to bottom dwelling organisms, and are responsible for habitat degradation when they set their rigs too heavy, and drag the bottom. Bycatch in this industry is believed to be typically underreported.

5. Rising nutrient levels

Another concern is the level of nutrient in the Upper Spencer Gulf, which is skirted by marginal farming land. Unusual green 'slime' has been sighted in the gulf by local divers, though this requires further investigation.


6. Conspiracy


Another concern is the possibility of consipracy to intentionally eliminate the cuttlefish to benefit private sector commercial interests. Such an effort could be seen to have the potential to reduce the level of public resistance from a conservation perspective to the proposed developments for the peninsula (desal plant, port expansion, diesel storage, ammonium nitrate plant).


7. Fur seal predation


A group of New Zealand Fur Seals have moved into the region (less than a dozen) and some fishermen believe they have been eating cuttlefish. We have not seen or read any evidence to support this theories merits, but it's yet another sign of the changing dynamics in the region's ecology.
 

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Using the giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama) mass breeding aggregation to explore the life cycle of dicyemid parasites
Sarah R. Catalano, Ian D. Whittington, Stephen C. Donnellan, Bronwyn M. Gillanders 2013 (subscription)

Abstract
Dicyemid mesozoan parasites, microscopic organisms found with high intensities in the renal appendages of benthic cephalopods, have a complex, partially unknown life cycle. It is uncertain at which host life cycle stage (i.e. eggs, juvenile, adult) new infection by the dispersive infusoriform embryo occurs. As adult cephalopods have a short lifespan and die shortly after reproducing only once, and juveniles are fast-moving, we hypothesize that the eggs are the life cycle stage where new infection occurs. Eggs are abundant and sessile, allowing a huge number of new individuals to be infected with low energy costs, and they also provide dicyemids with the maximum amount of time for survival compared with infection of juvenile and adult stages. In our study we collected giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama) eggs at different stages of development and filtered seawater samples from the S. apama mass breeding aggregation area in South Australia, Australia, and tested these samples for the presence of dicyemid DNA. We did not recover dicyemid parasite cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) nucleotide sequences from any of the samples, suggesting eggs are not the stage where new infection occurs. To resolve this unknown in the dicyemid life cycle, we believe experimental infection is needed.
 

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Mysteries of the deep and the sex lives of cuttlefish The Sydney Morning Herald: Annabel Crabb March 30, 2014

The attention of the world has been focused for weeks on a vast expanse of the treacherous Indian Ocean, transfixed by the strange and discomfiting human tragedy of flight MH370.

It's a moment at which all our ingenuity as a species collides with the immortal implacability of the elements; all the gadgets and connectivity in the world cannot appreciably moderate the task of finding a tiny so-called black box under seven kilometres of roiling, angry water, especially when you're not sure where to look.

About 3000 kilometres to the north-east, up at the very top of the ''V'' bitten out of South Australia by the Southern Ocean, another disappearance is baffling locals.

More than a hundred thousand cross-dressing, glow-in-the-dark creatures with remote-controlled skin and three hearts apiece have disappeared, and no one knows exactly why.

The area is Point Lowly, right up the top of Spencer Gulf, where in the shallow salty waters just offshore, every winter, the Australian giant cuttlefish come to mate.

The giant cuttlefish is the strangest creature alive. It is huge - up to a metre long - with eight tentacles bunched up the front of a body shaped like a sourdough loaf, and a romantic frill running along its length.

It has an enormous brain, which resembles a doughnut.

The pupils in its outsized, expressive eyes are shaped like a W; it is colour blind, sadly, but the eyes are among the most developed in the animal kingdom, which is reassuring given the sorts of things it will witness during mating season, which I shall outline shortly.

And yes - it has three hearts. They pump the cuttlefish's blood, which is blue, thus establishing a prima facie case to recommend the creature for an Abbott knighthood (although realistically there would be strong protest from Cory Bernardi, owing to its sexual habits).

Of all the strange attributes of the giant cuttlefish, its skin is the most magical.

It is smooth, but laced with tiny muscles that allow it to become knobbly.

The cuttlefish is known as the ''Chameleon of the Sea'', because it can change colour at will; moody mottled brown, iridescent blue, pale green, sudden stripes.

When especially excited, patterns will actually appear to flow along its flanks; a magical glowing ripple effect, like a 1950s TV, slightly off-station, in a shop window at night.

''Man is the only creature that blushes. Or needs to,'' said Mark Twain, but one imagines he had not encountered the giant cuttlefish.

Scientists at Harvard announced in January that they had successfully reverse-engineered cuttlefish skin, in the hope of one day building adaptive camouflage gear for humans, which would certainly make life easier for sailors currently obliged to cover themselves in cephalopods for the same effect.

But the most charmingly preposterous thing about the Australian giant cuttlefish is its sex life.

The reason Point Lowly is famous among cuttle-fanciers is that this unassuming little spot is - every winter - the site of an all-in, depraved cuttlefish orgy, a festival of invertebrate concupiscence unchallenged anywhere else in the world.

Males outnumber females by about eight to one, and are thus obliged to put on incredible psychedelic displays; pulsating zebra stripes, patterns, wild flashes of colour; it's like watching a hundred thousand iPads trying to have sex.

The big ones tend to win out, so the smaller males do something quite unusual; they switch from gaudy ''male'' colours to more muted female ones, and - while thus cross-dressed - slip into the fray hoping for a sly shag.

The giant cuttlefish lives for only two years, and after this winter Mardi Gras, it will slink off and die, ideally to become a calcium supplement for the Giant Budgie.

But the mystery of Point Lowly is this: in recent years, the cuttlefish have disappeared.

From the erotic heights of 1999, when nearly 200,000 of them gathered for a frenzied bout of ''squid pro quo'', numbers have fallen by 90 per cent and now barely 13,000 rock up.

This year, with winter approaching, locals and tourism operators hope for the best, but fear the worst.

The Spencer Gulf population is regarded by some scientists as a unique cuttlefish species. Where has it gone?

And is it gone for ever?

The creature and its eggs are microscopically sensitive to changes in salinity. And to noise.

And their kinky party-pad is surrounded by shipping lanes, aquaculture projects, the Port Bonython hydrocarbon processing plant and a proposed desalination plant for BHP Billiton.

The specific cause remains a mystery, but the evidence suggests that one of the world's great marine spectacles is soon to be a memory.

The ocean is full of unanswered questions.



Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-...uid-pro-quo-20140329-35q8n.html#ixzz2xO5olUx7
 
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DWhatley

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Giant Australian cuttlefish swarm back to SA Spencer Gulf breeding site

Hundreds of giant Australian cuttlefish have swum into breeding grounds at the top of Spencer Gulf in South Australia, reversing a worrying decline of recent years.
The population had been dwindling and local diver Tony Bramley says he had not been expecting to see any this season, based on that trend.
He says it has been warmer-than-usual weather for the start of the breeding season and more cuttlefish might arrive as temperatures drop.
Mr Bramley says he does not know where the cuttlefish have travelled from as there has been no sign of many gathering offshore in recent weeks.
Cuttlefish research efforts include:
  • Monitoring breeding aggregation in northern Spencer Gulf to check numbers, water quality and state of habitat.
  • Looking at potential alternative cuttlefish spawning areas in northern Spencer Gulf.
  • Determining the habitat preferred by cuttlefish when laying eggs, to aid research into artificial habitats which might promote breeding.
"It's just baffling to see that many cuttlefish after the year that we had last year," he said.
"I'm really at a loss to explain how they've recovered so quickly, I mean it's wonderful to see that.
"It just proves that, no matter what you think you might know, nature can always surprise you, because it's out of left field. I really didn't expect anything like what we saw."
Mr Bramley says cuttlefish numbers are better than they have been in the past three years but still low overall.
"Now to be fair we've only dived Black Point, so we haven't been through the rest of the aggregating sites."
Federal and state funding has supported research into cuttlefish breeding in northern Spencer Gulf since the decline in numbers was noted.
 

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Cuttlefish surveys increased

With the help of local divers, Whyalla’s Giant Australian Cuttlefish population is now being regularly monitored throughout the spawning period.
Each year from late May to early July when the cuttlefish congregate to breed, divers will visit more than 10 sites around the Lowly Peninsula to lay transects and collect data.
The citizen science project, in partnership with South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), is allowing for a more comprehensive data collection on the movements, numbers and size of cuttlefish.
Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula coast and marine officer Kate Brocklehurst said the surveys would aid in the protection of shrinking cuttlefish numbers.
Last weekend the group surveyed the False Bay site in wet and windy conditions with data collected on 38 small to medium cuttlefish.
Local diver and cuttlefish enthusiast Tony Bramley said the group was hoping to expand its numbers to get a wider net of data and collect as much information as possible.
"We really appreciate the help of the volunteers we had today and hope to entice other divers to help so we can do more to help this great cause," Mr Bramley said.
Aspiring marine biologist Georgina Wilson said the protection of this unique and iconic Whyalla marine life was important and something she was more than happy to be part of.
“This is a great learning experience for me as well as an opportunity to help this great species that we are so lucky to have,” Ms Wilson said.
For more information on joining the cuttlefish survey team call Kate on 0488 000 481 or contact the Whyalla Dive Shop.
 

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Seals threaten cuttlefish, warn divers
By ELI GOULD July 7, 2014, 11:01 a.m.
Whyalla divers have expressed their concerns about fur seals in the area feasting on the region’s cuttlefish.
Whyalla Dive Shop owner Tony Bramley said last weekend he saw more than 10 fur seals in the area and many “damaged” cuttlefish nearby.
Mr Bramley said this was the first time in a number of years he had spotted the fur seals.
He said it was concerning to see fur seals eating cuttlefish, given the huge numbers returning back to the area.
Mr Bramley said the seals should not be here.
“There are tens of thousands of cuttlefish here at the moment and it’s about half of what it should really be,” he said.
“People from all over the world including America, Canada, England and European countries travel here to dive with the cuttlefish.
“They are drawn specifically for the cuttlefish.”
Mr Bramley said there was a “gutter” at the front of OneSteel where good numbers of cuttlefish congregated.
He said the marine life there was “exceptionally vast” and needed to be protected.
“I haven’t seen this many fur seals around in at least three years and clearly they have taken a liking to the cuttlefish,” Mr Bramley said.
“I think it comes down to there being a lack of sharks or predators of the fur seals.
“While there is still a small percentage around, it seems the balance of the eco system has changed.
“It seems we have mucked up the system.”
Mr Bramley said while the numbers of cuttlefish returning this year were “significantly” better it was still down to years gone past.
He said the fur seals had “eaten themselves out of home and house”, meaning they were always moving around looking for a new food source.
Mr Bramley said cuttlefish were an integral part of the region’s ecosystem and steps needed to be taken to ensure their future.
 

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Scientists baffled by return of giant cuttlefish
ABC Online
ELIZABETH JACKSON: Scientists are struggling to explain a dramatic turnaround in giant Australian cuttlefish numbers in South Australia. Each winter the animals gather in the Spencer Gulf for the breeding season. Their numbers have been declining, from ...


Continue reading...
 

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#14
Giant Cuttlefish: Undetermined decline
BY Natsumi Penberthy September 23, 2014

AT FIRST GLANCE, the Lowly peninsula near Whyalla in South Australia appears unspectacular. Its most obvious feature is a rusted, 2.4km-long jetty at Port Bonython that vanishes into the horizon. From the rocky shore, few could imagine that, just 100m away, a pulsating, iridescent mass of 180,000-plus giant cuttlefish once thronged beneath the waves. Discovered in the late 1990s, this aggregation of the world’s largest cuttlefish was a magnificent wildlife spectacle and attracted international filmmakers in their droves.
But for reasons that aren’t clear, despite much research, numbers congregating here have dive-bombed, collapsing by a massive 93 per cent to just 13,500 in 2013. Whether the crash was caused by industry, over-predation by marine mammals or simply natural population fluctuations are all questions to be answered. Some experts even speculate the aggregation itself represented an unusual spike that has now passed, but the population here has been studied by scientists for less than 20 years, so nobody is yet sure. ...
 

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Cuttlefish study condemned by marine life group
Whyalla News Oct. 7, 2014

Marine Life Society of South Australia group has condemned a recent study into the potential impact of shipping noise on cuttlefish aggregation, claiming the study was “scientifically flawed”.
The group also argued the study did not prove shipping had not adversely affected the cuttlefish population.
Marine Life Society of South Australia secretary Dan Monceaux said the society was concerned the report may be used to justify the approval of the Port Bonython Bulk Commodities Export Facility near Point Lowly this month.
Mr Monceaux sought scientific opinions from underwater acoustic experts interstate to confirm his own analysis.
He said the advice he received suggested field studies would be the only way to investigate harm or potential harm.
“The study’s methodology is flawed as it failed to create any conditions representative of present or future Upper Spencer Gulf shipping scenarios,” Mr Monceaux said.
“The scientists recorded much smaller vessels in Port Adelaide instead of Cape class vessels, which can be up to almost 300 metres long, with propellers 6-7 metres in diameter.
“Cape vessels are always present in Upper Spencer Gulf so why would the scientists record smaller vessels?”
Mr Monceaux said it was essential for giant Australian cuttlefish to be preserved for science, education, recreation and tourism.
 

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Closure of giant cuttlefish fishery extended
FIS - Friday, February 13, 2015, 22:20 (GMT + 9)


The temporary closure to all fishing for cuttlefish in northern Spencer Gulf has been extended until 15 February 2016 as part of the South Australia Government’s management of the iconic species.

The closure includes all waters north of a line commencing near Arno Bay on Eyre Peninsula, to Wallaroo on Yorke Peninsula. It is in addition to the permanent cephalopod (squid, cuttlefish and octopus) fishing closure in the waters of False Bay.

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said the closure, initially implemented in March 2013, was a precautionary measure while research into the behaviour of the giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama) in the northern Spencer Gulf region continues.

“This closure applies to the targeting and take of cuttlefish, so any cuttlefish inadvertently caught must be immediately and carefully returned to the water,” Bignell said.

“However if you are fishing outside the False Bay area but within the northern Spencer Gulf closure area you will still be able to continue to fish for squid and octopus.”

The minister said various research projects overseen by the Government’s Cuttlefish Working Group are helping to provide some insights into giant Australian cuttlefish.

“The population dynamics of cuttlefish in northern Spencer Gulf are complex. Last year’s survey verified the first population increase of cuttlefish recorded in six years, 57,317, up from the 2013 figures of 13,492.

“However until we can confirm from this year’s survey that this upward trend is ongoing, management measures such as the northern Spencer Gulf closure need to remain in place.”

Bignell said commitment by all levels of government would help to find out more about this symbolic species.

“There are a number of projects underway as part of AUD 805,000 (USD 624,000) in research funding granted by the State Government and the Commonwealth. This work will assist in determining the future management actions required to ensure their sustainability and health.”
 

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Washed up cuttlefish bones a 'positive' sign for ongoing population recovery in South Australian
2015 April 9

Giant Australian cuttlefish off the waters of South Australia are showing positive signs of an ongoing population recovery, locals say.

Tony Bramley from Whyalla Diving Services said plenty of cuttlefish bones were washing up and that was a good sign ahead of the breeding season that began in about a month.

"I'm getting good feedback from locals and fishermen that are telling me that they are seeing cuttlefish bones in the tidal streams," he said.

"I'm noticing them myself washing up on the beaches and people are coming in with reports of the occasional accidental catch."

Mr Bramley was surprised last year when higher than expected numbers turned up for the start of the breeding season.

He had not been expecting many cuttlefish because the population had been in severe decline and there had been little signs of them gathering offshore.

This year, however, it was looking very positive, he said, although it was too early to predict numbers.

"They'll be out in the deeper waters at this stage off Whyalla," Mr Bramley said.

"We don't expect them to come in to the shallows where they're visible as an aggregation until the water cools down a bit more.

"But to get reports of the number and frequency that we've been getting in the last couple of weeks is very, very encouraging."
 

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Cuttlefish monitoring underway as Whyalla area citizen scientists help SARDI
Locals near Whyalla are taking part in a citizen science program monitoring cuttlefish in the area.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) recently held a training session, which was attended by 12 people.

SARDI's Dr Mike Steer said locals had been enthusiastic about the program, which formalised work they had already been doing.

He said the data the citizen scientists collected was collated with SARDI's own information.

"What we've just done is provided them with a standard methodology of how to go out and assess the population which just relates to running out a series of underwater transects and counting and measuring cuttlefish that fall within that transect," he said.

"They're iconic species that occurs in their local patch, so it's really great to see the community taking some sort of ownership and commitment in ensuring the sustainability of this fascinating creature."
 

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#20
Encouraging signs for giant Australian cuttlefish recovery
Posted on June 22, 2015

It is with great delight that we wish to report some observations from the 2015 giant Australian cuttlefish aggregation in Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia. As many friends of the cuttlefish will already know, the population gathers from the surrounding waters of Northern Spencer Gulf (north of Wallaroo and Arno Bay) each winter. They arrive en masse along the Point Lowly peninsula where they seek out mates and lay their eggs on the rocky inshore reefs of Whyalla, Black Point, Stony Point and Point Lowly.

The monitored decline in population (1998-2013) has been a matter of great concern to local residents, the dive community, conservationists and fishermen. Back in the late 1990’s, there were an estimated 250,000 animals arriving annually at the aggregation areas. By 2013, that number had dropped to 13,500. In 2014 there was cautious optimism, as the downward trend turned a corner. The population increased to around 57,000 animals. We last listed some of the factors which may have contributed to the decline on Cuttlefish Day, 10 October 2013- during the annual celebration of all things cephalopod: Cephalopod Awareness Days.

This year’s early observations were promising, with local divers noticing that the average size of observed animals had increased- a possible indicator of improving animal health. A recent trip made by the Flinders University Underwater Club returned some amazing photographs, including those featured in this post by Chris Carthew. The group shots reveal the animals’ clear and visible abundance. Local divers estimate that numbers may have doubled again from 2014 figures, but official numbers collected by SARDI and corporate-contracted scientists are yet to confirm this.

If you haven’t already seen the cuttlefish yourself, now would be an excellent time to plan a trip. The animals start arriving in May each year, and remain easily visible through August. In a good season, the animals may also be present in September, though by this time, the majority of animals will have laid their eggs and passed away. Both male and female cuttlefish die after mating and laying their eggs, meaning that every year the majority of animals present represent an entirely new generation.

There are a few common misconceptions about the accessibility of the cuttlefish aggregation. Firstly, you don’t need to be able to dive in order to see them up close and appreciate them. Nor do you need a boat, nor do you need your own wetsuit. Local business Whyalla Diving Services and its proprietor Tony Bramley have everything you will need- expert knowledge, wetsuits, snorkels, fins, weights, torches for night explorations and scuba tanks if you’re qualified and want to dive.

The animals aggregate in shallow water (mostly 3-6 metres), along rocky inshore fringing reef, accessible from the shore. The two most popular spots, Black Point and Stony Point both have car-parking and easy descents to the water’s edge. Black Point has a staircase down a cliff to the rocky shore, and Stony Point has a gentler entry down an artificial walkway.

We maintain that the giant Australian cuttlefish is a marine wonder of the natural world, and it is with great relief and joy that we share this good news with you. Vigilance in defense of this habitat is ever necessary however, as plans to industrialise the region are ever present. Last week, we drew attention to Sundrop Farms’ plan to dump desalination brine into Upper Spencer Gulf upstream of the cuttlefish aggregation areas. A plan for a mineral export port at Port Bonython, which would run through the existing Stony Point reef is also pending approval. A decision is expected by June 30 this year.

The only thing that will protect the cuttlefish and their breeding area is community support- something we have been fostering through this website since it was launched in August 2011. If you want to show the cuttlefish some love, please consider signing our petition, or making a donation to our ongoing work to draw attention to this natural wonder and see that it receives the protection, management and careful study that we believe it deserves. The independent, feature-length documentary film, Cuttlefish Country is currently in post-production and your donations will support its release, promotion and international distribution.
 

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Monty Awards

TONMOCON IV (2011): Terri
TONMOCON V (2013): Jean
TONMOCON VI (2015): Taollan
TONMOCON VII (2018): ekocak

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